14 Aug 2006

Good bye Hollywood

The Last Supper

In another of my alternative histories I have been thinking about a world without Hollywood. I am going on a no Hollywood diet, I do find most US films, full of too much cheese with contrived plots. I have been watching lots of Latin American cinema, painless way of learning a bit of spanish, they tend to be low key, little soap operas based on human relationship...they feel, they feel and this is a tough thing for somebody who is 0.3 an academic to say 'authentic', real, believable.

You can get lots of good stuff from Amazon or other dvd rental schemes, although Cuban stuff is more difficult to come across.

If you buy a multi-region DVD player, cheap now, you can watch from any region, this region thing is another marketing device....films can be released in one part of the globe and then in another with different promotion...put in a code and you can watch from any region.

I suppose one of the first I watched was 'El Topo', which my friend Christina Borgenstierna wanted to see, its wholly excellent but not run of the mill. Its a heavy duty counter culture classic loved by John Lennon, a spiritual cowboy film, very surreal and bloody.

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Chilian-Mexican, its director is pretty much a zen master...his Santa Sangre is good as well, pretty much a magical horror film....his interview on the Jonathon Ross show was fun, tells a good tale of Boddhidarma going to the Chinese Emperor.

Machuca (2004)in contrast is about the fall of Allende in Chile, when the right moved in with a coup, there is a stunning scene where the priest eats the host, declaring the school he runs is no longer a place of god, after the authorities 'reform' it!

Alea the great Cuban director has produced a load of master pieces, often pretty critical of the bad side of socialist Cuba, Guantanamera (1995) his last is a good start

Last Supper (La última cena) (1976) - Fiction, 120 minutes...about a slave revolt is a must see.

Death of a bureacrat is a bit too slapstick for me

Chocolate and Strawberry (1993) which deals with gay rights on the island, repression, conformity...sounds dull but is great, going to finish watching it after I post this.

There are a load of good films with the Mexican actor Gael García Bernal Amores perros (Love's a Bitch) (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), El crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) (2002), and of course, The Motorcycle Diaries (2004).

Seen them all...all great and very accessible...low on politics though, interesting how non political 'El Che' was as a youth, specially when we remember Bookchin joined the Communist Party age nine! I guess without experiencing poverty in the trip across the continent and the coup in Guatamala he would have never been a revolutionary.

Valentín is a 2002 film direted by Alejandro Agresti, very sweet, sad Argentine film, couple of clicks on amazon to watch....about a nine year old boy, whose parents are not all he desires..he finds new parents, smart lad.

Suggestions for more Latin American films please....must do a Werner Herzog post very green political in a non obvious way.


Lawrie Coombs said...

Subtitled flicks eh! And a boycott of Hollywood films - hard one that!

'Valentin' is a great little film, if a bit weepy. note the bit in the film with priest eulogising over Che Guevara to his congregation, some of whom walk out.

'Etre et avoir' is a great docu-film going through the seasons of a small French community centring on a local school.

In terms of more overtly political films, I loved 'the tin drum' and 'Germinal'.

'Morgan, A suitable case for Treatment' is a really funny 60s number with a rather slinky Vanessa Redgrave and the ultimate Irene Handel. A trotskyist artist rebels against his stalinist parents (a greasy Joe proprieter and an all in wrestler) and has some funny Jacques tati-like moments dressed as a gorrila. I haven't seen this film in 15 years and it is still strongly lodged in my subconscious.

Oh and of course there is 'Le cage aux Folles', which is of course the best film ever made!

Derek Wall said...

I am not making a puritan political point here..I am just finding US output a bit tedious.

Its also interesting to see how similar films are from a particular part of the world, Hollywood looks diverse but go somewhere else and it looks pretty uniform.

I think the one virtue of a bit of university work is good film access.

The part of Valentin with the sermon on che is good...the influence of religion is a big feature also in a lot of the latin american cannon.

thanks for the film recommendations!

Samuel said...

Bless you Derek...

Anonymous said...

Hi Derek

Jason Diceman here from Toronto, Canada. Did we ever meet?

I was wondering if you can pass on my email to Christina Borgenstierna - we are old friends.

jd -at- cooptools.ca

please thanks


Derek Wall said...

Hi Jason,

have forwarded your email, had a mail from her a week or so ok, she is in Peckham.

Did we meet? Zen maybe.

all the best,


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