Category Archives: Foreign

film #2 | Una Noche

Havana, Cuba

| 2012, Cuba, UK, US, dir. Lucy Mulloy |

Wow. What a film this is. I wasn’t expecting the impact this film would have until I was swept into the story, as it developed. This is obviously not a perfect film. It has some problems and wouldn’t make everyone’s nothing-to-do afternoon watch. But it has character and it is very engaging.

We start out with a voice over intro from Lila (Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre), the younger sister of Elio (Javier Núñez Florián) who is best friends with Raul (Dariel Arrechaga). Lila is a tan teenager who is bullied by the “pretty” girls for her style since she a loner who finds closer friendships in guys. Her brother Elio, works in a kitchen where Raul is an apprentice and finds out about Raul’s dream of going to Miami to search for his father. The story revolves around these three characters who become increasingly connected to Raul’s dream of heading north. One of the problems is, even though the story is told through Lila’s voiceover, it had a tendency of sticking with Raul which may confuse who the story is supposed to follow but this is not really a problem to me. It could be seen as an ensemble told through Lila’s eyes. But I guess Lila still has perhaps the most emotional connection. You decide. These storytelling tools are just there as a guide but as filmmakers we don’t have to follow them as long as the story is engaging.

I hate to point negatives of artists’ works since I know how hard it is to make something, especially how difficult it is to stick to your original vision. The work takes a life of its own and it develops with the team that is creating it. So I say this with caution as merely suggestions. At some parts the use of non-actors becomes self-reflexive and we can tell they are acting but when they do forget about the camera, magic happens. Another thing is the story is saturated with sexual encounters and I get the people’s need to “release” themselves from this often oppressive way of living but I didn’t need it more than 2-3 times. Perhaps this is part of the research the director so throughly made by living in the island, and is something that is prevalent there, but I still can get the point sooner.

With that being said, the film is almost a visual research piece on the cultural development of these people. Aside from the obvious appeal that a film set in Cuba provides, the world of the film is well displayed as is its complex characters and their dilemmas. There is a lot of rich details and you should keep learning more details on re-watches. I love the moments of pure humanism when these characters react to each other in a organic way. The little things said are wonderful. It is pure-cinema. This is what makes this movie special. I can tell Lucy Mulloy is still learning the tools but already knows the core of what makes us human. It is amazing that this is her first feature and it is impressive that it was premiered at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.

I will definitely be on the lookout for what she has in store next.

Oh, and did I mention it is extremely cinematic? Just look at the screenshot above.

I tried to be as specific as possible without spoilers and this is the most I can get right now but:

watch this film to the end! It is literally very important. And let me know what you think!


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film #1 | Linha de Passe

| 2008, Brazil, dir. Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas |

Linha de Passe is a depiction of a lower class family composed of 4 brothers and a single pregnant mother in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. It tells story of each member as they struggle through their suffocating circumstances in this unforgiving metropolis. What I love about this movie is that although it explores the theme of survival, it doesn’t concentrate on the over portrayed drug-controlled favelas as we’re so used to seeing, instead it shows what real characters go through and how they help each other keep their lives going.

As the title suggests, “Linha de Passe” is a term in football (or soccer for the stubborn ones) that means the line where one player can pass the ball to another with the least probability of interception. That’s what happens in this film. The story is passed character to character and each one has interesting traits. Denis is the older one who works as a motoboy and has a hard time providing for his son. Dinho is the more serious brother who seeks to cover up his shady past through religion. Dario is the football player who dreams of going pro, and Reginaldo is the younger one who is fascinated with driving a bus while constantly searching for his father.

To be honest, I did not like this film in my first viewing but this time I came to appreciate more each of their journeys. Maybe the quantity of characters obstruct a deeper development of each, diluting the narrative down a notch. Whatever it may be, one can still appreciate a pretty realistic picture of what it is to live in a cruel part of this city.


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