Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Summary Con't

Mecanica Nacional: I think this movie was all about excessiveness. Excessive consumption, sex and alcohol. What this mirrors though, and is in a sense another way of portraying, is the excessive representations of mexican identity. This excessiveness works to show the tropes of Mexican identity which are relied on in films to create the tone.
Callejon de Los Milagros: What I noticed most in this film was the kind of helplessness felt by the characters in the film. There wasn't much in the way of happy endings for everyone, and no matter what kind of life anyone led, there was no way in being accepted. This thus creates an invocation of the openness and emptyness of Mexican identity. The multiple conflicts and the lack of resolutions also lend to this.
Batalla en El Cielo: this film showed the conflicts of Mexico City through sexuality. Themen and women in the film are all numb to what surrounds them, but sex nonetheless is a huge part of all of their lives. I also noticed that within all the crime and immorality, there is still a heavy reliance on Catholicism.
Que Viva Mexico: Like I said in class, this film was very much a depiction of Mexican identity as genuinely traditional mexico as seen in the first scene. Then there is a depiciton of Mexican identity after Spanish influence has taken ahold of Mexico ass seen in the bull fighting scene. And then the result of these two cvoming together in conflict is seen in the last scene with the battle.
The discursive efforsts of this film end though in the final scene regarding a summary of the events of the revolution.
Touch of Evil: This film shows a switching of identities. It relies strongly on the border as a particular setting and invocating force of the conflict. Within this setting of the border there is seen a hibridity of mexican and American identity as seen in Miguel's character and in his marriage. Within this hibridity though there is stil seen a hierarchy of Mexican identity above that of America as seen in the corruption on the US side. yet it is not that simple because Miguel uses corrupt ways to find out the info that he needs to charge the sherriff.
The Wild Bunch: This film introduced us to the conflict at the border which we still see today. Here it is a conflict of gun supplies and the confusion of jurisdiction which gets in the way of properly delaing with the conflist so as to resolve it. We also saw in this film a degradation of women which completely took away their identity, not jsut made il representations of them.
Three Amigos: This film really played on the tropes of Mexican representation in films. In the story line, it had the bandidos attacking an innocent town and the Americans save the day. There are also images and background effects used which are tropes as the chickens and excessive tequila presence. Overall, this is a comdey showing the fallacy of overused Mexican interpretations.
Traffic: This film deals with the drug problem between the US and Mexico. There is seen an incapability of the set ways of dealing with the issue on both sides of the border. As we discussed in class, there isnt very easily seen a didactic essence to the film. It is unclear which side is less at fault, and there is also an ambiguity behind the film's end as being hopeful or hopeless. What it does do though, is engage the watcher so much so that his perception is what completes the work.


I'm just going to go through the movies we watched and what I thought was most notable of each of them.
Aguila o Sol: What I noticed most about this film was Mexico's own satire of their people, seen most clearly in the act of Cantiflas and his friend. Also the conflict is resolved in the end by the assimilation of Cantiflas into a higher society, lending to a hierarchy of people, I think. We talked the most about the dream sequence and what purpose it served. From what I remember, it showed how Cantiflas was an outsider until money put him in a situation of acceptance.
Los Olvidados: This film played with the genre of documentary even though what we perceive as such is far different from what it was in the time that the film was made. The narration at the beginning is the biggest indication that it is a film to expose the situation in Mexico city, but it does this through a discourse throughout the film. To keep the audience aware that they are indeed watching an observation of life rather than part of the action as in other films in which the camera is invisible, this film makes the separation between observer and thing oberved clear in scenes such as the egg landing on the lens.

Have to go to class... will be continued....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


What I noticed most about this film, and perhaps one of the few things which I didn't like about it, was the cinematography in the sense of its colour. I know there must be a division of which kind of formula was used in each setting etc, but it was still rather strange.
In sticking to Mexican representation though, I really did think it did a good job. The character of the general was done very well as he hid his corruption behind a "humanitarian" heart. Like the corruption one sees so rampant in South America, Salazar is able to fool everyone into thinking he is a good cop working for the good of the people. In connection with this character, I also notice that the people of Mexico nonetheless revere him even after he has been exposed as a criminal. This shows to me the respect people of developing countries have for anyone in power, just as long as it may positively reflect on them aswell. Example would be the guards allowing for his suicide.
Benicio Del Toro's character, even though only one of the multiple strains of discourse, had the gfreatest impact on me. He showed a man who by his own means alone is trying to better his country, and when he tries to overreach his abilities by working with Salazar, he is quick to realize that he must go back to his true profession as police officer, rather than a fraudulent "man of the people". I think in the end his character and that of the african american cop are the winners of the conflicting action, but yet I find that del Toro's character shows that Mexico is more inclined to cfight the war on drugs. It seems that the drug problem goes much depper and is much more hidden in the American side of the border.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Three Amigos

What I noticed most about this film was the playing upon tropes by the film's portrayal of Mexico. Like we said in discussion, the film parodies the Western genre, but what I noticed most was the playing upon particulars within Mexican representaion.
For one, I couldn't ignore the presentaion of modern versus antiquity in the first scene. Like Los Olvidados, this shows a Mexico in transition, and sets the time and place for the film's plot. Unlike Los Olvidados though, this film shows the people riding donkeys and in ponchos fully aware of their backwardness... they are shown in contempt for themselves almost.
Another trope of Mexican representaion was the constant presence of tequila. It was so present that it became materialized. The bottles were always clean and plentiful. Even though anyone agrees that they are a part of Mexican characteristic construction, they presence was so played upon that they seemed out of place almost. But I guess it could also be said that they were so present to be deemed an extension of their arms. I guess that discrepancy will be decided by each viewer.
The third trope I wish to reflect on is that of the chickens. There were chickens everywehre. I'm pretty sure that they shot a pot once that was hanging down and from it came a chicken. This play became tired out in the end, but I suspect that it is to personify its cliche.
The last trope which noticed in the movie was that of Germans. Their characteristics are overexpressed and so prevalent that again, this lends to the falacy of German representations in Western genre.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wild Bunch

What I noticed most about this film was the portrayal of women it presented. Even though Mexican men are shown as characteristically diverse, the women in this film are not given that benefit.
Just like the excessive violence of the film which becomes somewhat ineffectual, the portrayal of women becomes cliched also. There seemed to be breasts shown bare too often so much so that it didn't mean anything when they were. The scene when the two Americans frolick with the 3 Mexican women was quite upsetting to me too. The women were just getting thrown around and stripped by the men as if they were some inate object; It was pretty disgusting to me. The unimportance of death of women also upset me. When the Mexican's ex lover is killed by him, and later the fact that the procession of prayers was interrupted by the drunk yells of the Mexicans and Americans shows this degradation of women. There is even a point in the last battle scene in which one of the Mexicans uses a women as a shield against bullets.
Thus far I have just given examples of how Mexiacn were are shown in action, but what I think is most important is the scene in which the Americans leave the women with the baby and do not pay them for their prostitution. This is bad enough, but I remembered how the Americans had earlier talked of spending all of their money back in America on whores. So I'm left to see the deliberate juxtaposition between the American's tratement of Mexican women and American ones, even if they are whores. Aiding in this moral crime is the Mexican men's inability to stand up for their fellow country people and their willingness to aid the Americans for an eventual benefit to their violent cause.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I think that the regard of the border encompasses almost the entire core of the film's thematic purpose. The division between these two nations establishes the dominance of Hank, but also allows for his downfall. It creates the division between Susan and Mike that we deem unimportant: they are not of the same country, they are divided aswell. I hope that we in class discuss the issue of the border in the film. I think that it was the catalyst for the conflict of the film; the business man whose car explodes is going there to enjoy more freedom, one could say, but his assumptions are wrong, and he ends up taking such freedom for granted. I cant help but think that its very important that the film begins at a border town, and ends in the river which separates them...


RESPONSE TO HUDSON404: I think that the actions of the hotel clerk speak to the directro's attempt to show that Susan is as unsafe on that side of the border as on the other. It actually seems to me that she gets into much more trouble at the motel, then in Mexico when she willingly goes to Grande's house and he ensures her that noone is keeping her there, and she may do as she wants.The reading talks about this critique on the border's state of law.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Touch of Evil

I think that commenting on the cinematography and how it affected my perception of the film would be far above my head. I think that my thematic response to the film, though, was aided by the angles and movements of the camera.
But, he final scene in which the American police officer is shot, because of the camera angles, was abble to resonate a kind of salvation. If I remember correctly, the camera is looking down on him, and the good, or better, American cop is looking down on him and shoots him. There's a kind of heaven like quality to that kind of frame I think, which is enforced by the disgusting and devilish form of the dead man's corpse. The corpse even washes down amongst the garbage and the audience doesnt feel very shocked at such dehumanization, it's almost expected that this character ends this way.
In this ending to the movie, one of the main goals of the film becomes clear to me. One of these goals is to show Mexican identity as not inferior to that of the USA. I do not know enough about films at this time to say with sureity that this is not a common occurence, but I believe it would be. Throughout the film, we see the struggle of Vargas against the American cops, but our sympathies lie somewhat undecided until the very end. It is here that the fall of the American cop is evident both in his actions and even in his body. Vargas' triumph to me is a new representation of North American equality in a way, which shows that it is not each person's nationality but their character which places them in moral hierarchy above one another. I think this film is one which most clearly depicts individual characters above generalized views. If we think of the American girls in Mecanica Nacional, and then in this film, we see the former as being very boxed in and straight forward, but this film shows them separate and very dynamic in their character development.
Therefore, it is not out of ill representation of American identity in the film, for they are developed jsut as much as Vargas, but it is the carrying out of the plot which enables Vargas' triumph. This then makes the film a kind of social response, and anthropological representation of Mexican identity within a detective like film. Why the directer did this I cannot say, but I can say that it was effective in changing my perception of Mexican films and films of Mexico.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I actually felt that the scene of the women combing their hair wasn't eroticized. I felt that the camera wanted to depict a closeness to nature and basic man. If you see Concepcion and her betrothed, he is looking at her face, not her breasts or what would be expceted for it to be erotic. I was quite hit by that scene, actually, because they looked so wholesome and innocent. It was quite edenic to me, them topless in nature.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Que Viva Mexico

I really enjoyed this movie. Specifically though, I was really intrigued by the deep connections the filmmakers make between the Mexico they film and nature and the past. The first part, in which they observe the ruins, and the people are integrated into the ruins really affected me. In doing this, they showed how the identity of true Mexico is kept intact even after the assimilation forced upon them by the Spaniards. The long shots of peoples faces as they mirror the statues of the temples spoke voliumes to me. This creates a kind of exaltation of Mexican identity we haven't seen before; it makes me think of the grandeur of the Aztecs and how it has not gone away. A part of the narration I could not forget is when the narrator says "It is a kingdom of death, where the past rules the future." This stabalizes a connection with the true base of Mexican Identity which hasn't been changed by the present state of Mexico.
I think this film is able to create a Mexico in an honest way. This is aided by the discourses the narrator presents. He tells of Concepcion and the bull fighter, both representing common Mexicans in a positive light who become representations of the country's people.
The connection to nature, as seen in the constant shots of animals frolicking and what not, and the people relaxing in nature without the aid of material goods shows a kind of value to Mexican identity. A connection to nature to me signifies a connection to virtue and exsistelntial truthfulness.
For these reasons, the constant images of nature and the past, this film is a far greater representation of Mexican identity than others we have seen. Though the film somewhat generalizes, it steers away from making stock characters and critiquing them. The film brings to light the values of Mexico rather than condemming it for the faults so many other representations dwell on .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Batalla en el cielo

Like I said in our discussion yesterday, what most affected me was the persisten sound of a clock ticking. I've learned in literature, for example in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, that this is a reassuring sign of temporality and the coming promise of mortality. While this mortality is a repeated gloomy occurence in the film, it is hard to deny its peacefulness when it over takes the protagonist. Marcos to me represents a kind of tragic hero, but does not wholly fulfill the requirements to be one as he is not mentally well. His saving grace though is seen in this instability which eventually leads to his quasi suicidal death.
The ticking of the clock is thus seen to symbolise the deterioration of his character. As the events propel, and even though they are presented in backflash and in an entangled nature, the persistent sound of time does not allow for the derailment of mortality.
What I find interesting and think it speaks to the film's thematic intentions, is that it is not clear to me if this promise of death is a salvation for Marcos or a punishment. To support the former option, I think that his dying in the church after the pilgrimage is meaningful and shows a peace attained in death for this troubled character. But I also think that it could be seen as a punishment of divine quality because his wife does not show any emotion in seeing him die, the bells atop the church do not make a sound, and the closing seen of the flag coming down without him shows that his death is not very important.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Callejon de Llos milagros.

First and foremost, I want to say that I really enjoyed this movie. I really liked the multiple narrative layers which tells the same story through different perspectives which in the end intertwine and be come one story. Like the callejon in which they live and live different lives, the narrative funnels into a shared space. One thread which I think strongly connects the different narratives is the aspect of victimization. Even though athey work for respect and to be different from those who allowed themselves to fall by the wayside, they all end up becoming victims.

In the first narrative, Rutilio's son allows his father's indecency to push him to violence which later condemns everyone around him. He leaves without dealing with the consequences and overestimates these consequences so that his leaving only harms. It's intereseting to me to see how quick he is to act as if his violent act on the young man was actually an attack on himself. It's somewhat representative of his state of mind which allows him to perpetually believe that he is a victim.

This same victim mentality is seen in the next narrative of Alma. Even though she presents characteristics of an independent young woman, her mentatlity of being a helpless victim leads to her domination by others. First, she feels she is somewhat less of a person for being a virgin, and so she decides to date the young man who is really quite in love with her. She acts clueless to what she is doing as if she weren't victimizing herself. I think she represents a kind of girl who thinks everyone is out to harm her, and so harms herself before they can. She represents a learned helplessness which she uses to never have to work hard to break the bindings which hold her back. Though she speaks of passion, she likes the comfort of the box she is put into as a lower class Mexican girl. It is with this belief that she agrees to marry the older man she doesn't know and later agrees to become a prostitute. I think her role in the movie is to demise our belief of such personalities as being of social causation because in her we see a desire to be pitied unlike that of her boyfriend that went to Houston or even her girlfriend Maru.

EVentually, the boy that went to Houston allowed this victim allure to grab a hold of him too. He goes to the brothel with no real plan of murdering Jose Luis, but really only cuts his face and is thus killed himself. Though we don't know if he meant to cut his throat, I think what's important is that he knew he would be wounded for his actions. Again, I feel as if they see a certain safety in being deceived, murdered or abandoned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

El callejón de los milagros

Despues de leer "Sexuality and Space" escrito por Andrea Noble, me sorprendi que este pensamiento tambien existe cuando uno piensa de Londres en los años despues de la revolución industrial. Durante los años del sigle diecinueve, la ciudad de Londres empeso a cambiar como el cambio que se ve en la ciudad de México en los años treinta y despues tambien.
Para mi, siendo estudiante de literatura, me ayuda pensar en este cambio y el efecto del espacio en una ciudad sie pienso en libros que he leído. En mi clase de literatura de Londres, leímos un libro que se llamaba Evelina y trataba de una joven mujer que hablaba de su género femenino entre una ciudad que es controlada por hombres. En ella, se puede ver un pequeño cambio al respeto de mujeres, pero lo que es importante de este libro, es como la ciudad de Londres amenaza a su género femenino. El problema de la ciudad que presenta este libro es muy parecido al de El callejón por que en la vivienda de gente que se transforma a ser muy serca de uno al otro, se crea una cultura distincta de la cultura del pueblo. El espacio empiesa a ser algo que uno protege como si estuviera protegiendo a uno mismo. En películas y en obrad se teatro, esta importancia del espacio se ve cuando hay carácteres hablando pero tienen mucha distancia entre ellos, o tambien se puede ver cuando una persona en la obra muestra que está amenacada cuando alguien entra a su espacio privado. Esto se parece a el mismo problema del espacio cuando uno piensa en la ciudad por las diferencias de gente y de culturas entre barrio y barrio. Cada barrio trata de proteger su espacio en la ciudad, como la gente en cada calle o casa en la misma ciudad.
Yo pienso que esta obsesion con el espacio es algo que sale solo cuando una ciudad se empiesa crear. Será por los problemas sociales que nácen en una ciudad, pero yo pienso que la gente se combierte en seres mas privados y cuidadosos. El espacio para los que viven en ciudades determina como ellos pueden vivir, y si van a poder vivr o no. Entonces, la amenaza de el espacio es realmente una amenaza contra la vida, y por eso este problema se ve tan claramente en ciudades.
Si uno piensa en las obras de Harold Pinter, el muestra este problema de el espacio. El mustra en "The Homecoming" que cuando un espacio tan pequeño como una sala es partido por mucha gente, sucede violencia. Pinter muestra tambien que esta violencia no es muy importante, lo que es importante es que las reglas del espacio que ellos cohabitan se pueda cambiar otra ves a lo normal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Los olvidados

Los olvidados es una película que me afecto en un sentido personal. Haber vivido cerca de los barrios de Caracas, yo recuerdo haber visto niños como los de esta pelicula. La película, en su demuestración de un momento transicionál en México, usa el tipo de documentál y de narrativo para poder mostrar los efectos de esta transición efectivamente.
La escena que muestra a los niños llegando a casa en el barrio y en el fondo se puede ver una carretera llena de carros modernos. Buñuel sigue comparando lo moderno con lo antiguo duranto toda la película. Una comparación se ve entre el siego y el director de la escuela. El siego muestra que el es tradicionál y es parte de la cultura Mexicana que existia ántes de la revolución. El siego piensa que la única forma de parar los delincuentes del barrio es si los matan a todos, y este pensamiento es la última cosa que se oye en la película cuendo él grita que los deberían matar antes de nacer.
El director de la escuela granja representa la modernización positiva de la cultura mexicana. El director tiene esperanza en los niños y cree que si uno les muestra que tienen otras abilidades ellos pueden entrar otra ves a la sociedad y vivir sin crimen. La escena en la escuela granja le muestra a el público que el problema no es causado por los niños sino por los padres y la sociedad que los tiene desdichados.
En ésta comparación entre el siego y el director y en el resultado de que ningún sistema funciona suficientemente bien, se puede ver el deseo de Buñuel de mantener la película como un documental. El ensayo que leímos ántes de la película dice que esta representación dual es por el deseo de Buñuel de hacer que la audiencia haga su propia significación de la película, y tambien su deso de mostrar una vida vivida y no analisada. Al final, en ver este dilema de las dos opciones, se ve que el arreglo de el problema de Los olvidados no va a poder ser arreglado muy facilmente, pero se va a tener que arreglar ya que Buñuel lo represento tan realmente y auténticamente.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aguila o sol

Lo que me intereso mas a mi fue el caracter de Adriana. A mi me parece que ella es la que desde el principio puede mantener sus relaciones con los dos ninos y con los mas ricos de la ciudad. Cuando es chica, se puede ver que ella tiene un caracter muy fuerte y decide hacer lo que sea para que no los separen. Cuando todos ya han cresidos, Adriana muestra el poder de vivir todos timpos de vida. En el teatro, ella baila chistosamente para los de clase baja, y luego canta canciones bellas para los de la clase mas alta. Usando su arte, y tambien su bellesa, ella puede ser parte do los dos mundos sin romper su amistad con Polito o el otro muchacho.
Ella al final es la que hace que el papa de Polito tenga interes en los del teatro, y cuando esta con el director, es cuando ve la foto que muestra que Polito es el hijo. Aunque los narrativos son, por la mayoridad son mantenidas por los hombres, yo vi que Adriana cambia como los narrativos se desarrollan con su poder femenino.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

La Venezolana...

Hola! My name is Marianne and I am a third year English Literature student. I am also very bad with computers (Ipods hate me and my computer cries at night) so this is my second attempt at posting my introduction. Perhaps I should have saved it, but us Lit students don't anticipate errors and are too trusting of our abilities.
I was born in Venezuela in 1988 (No, I do not like Chavez), and moved here when I was 8. During highschool I went to school in Powell River, which is basically the quentisential small town, and got out right after graduation. The only thing Powell River has that's impressive, besides an abnormally high teen pregnancy rate, is the oldest (or one of the oldest) theatres in Canada: it was built in 1913. It's even open and running, though the chairs haven't been replaced, which makes for an uncomfortable and numbing movie experience.
As I see the art of rhetoric in films, I am very interested in films which contain poetic and thematic elements. And as a patriotic latin person, I felt that this class would emalgate these two passions for me.
I cannot think of a Latin film I like more than Pan's Labyrinth because of its imagery and deepness in meaning. But I have to admit that my favourite movie of all time is probably Full Metal Jacket, which is surprising for a girl especially since I can barely explain why I like it so much.
Hope to see you all in class, Chao!