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.