"Los condenados", de Isaki Lacuesta (Variety review)

(Spain) A Benece production with the participation of TVE, TVC. (International sales: Benece, Barcelona.) Produced by Xavier Atance. Executive producer, David Matamoros. Directed by Isaki Lacuesta. Screenplay, Lacuesta, Isabel Campo.

With: Daniel Fanego, Arturo Goetz, Leonor Manso, Maria Fiorentino, Juana Hidalgo, Barbara Lennie, Nazareno Casero.


Silence speaks louder than words in Isaki Lacuesta's hushed, intense and admirable "The Damned," in which a one-time guerrilla heads to the jungle for the excavation of a former colleague's grave. Pic is about whether or not it's best to remain quiet about the past, and as such its obliqueness is appropriate, but the vagueness of motivation and even setting inevitably make the film less a slice of living history than a resonant parable. Item is more about questions than about answers, and those questions are compelling and contempo enough for it to find a fest following.

Ex-revolutionary Raul (Arturo Goetz, always watchable), now elderly but still buzzing with the political ideals of his youth, calls his ex-colleague Martin (Daniel Fanego), who is exiled in Spain and has cancer. Raul tells Martin that he is in the South American jungle, trying to find the grave of their old sidekick, Ezequiel.

An initially reluctant Martin flies over to join the team, which consists of Ezequiel's widow Andrea (Leonor Manso), imprisoned by the authorities at the time; her close friend Vicky (Maria Fiorentino), whom she met in prison; Ezequiel's aging mother, Luisa (Juana Hidalgo); and Vicky's impressionable son, Pablo (Nazareno Casero). Notably absent from the proceedings is Ezequiel and Andrea's daughter, Silvia (Barbara Lennie), who believes the armed struggle was a waste of time.

Bitter over the fact that Martin went into European exile while the rest of them stayed behind and suffered the consequences, Andrea initially refuses to speak to him. Matters are not eased by Pablo's admiration for Martin, which leads the young man to start to play with guns. Pablo's emotional confusions are the direct result of the effects of events of 30 years before -- and of his parents' inability to themselves deal appropriately with those events.

Given the characters' complex backstory, the situation is understandably tense: As they circle the issues without confronting them, something is aching to be revealed. The script is tailored to suggest that much about the present depends on whether we choose to address a thorny past.

This is a key issue in many Latin American countries and elsewhere, which may explain why Lacuesta, who in his previous work has not been afraid to wear his research on his sleeve, has chosen not to root events in a specific time or place. Conceptually, this is fine, but it leaves the characters somewhat stranded and offers the viewer little in the way of context.

That said, the mainly Argentinean cast is strong enough to compensate for the lack of specifics. Fanego, who's at the center of things, stands out as the wasted, haunted, mysterious Martin, looking both powerfully charismatic and ghostlike as the others bounce their doubts and insecurities off him.

Pacing is snaillike, and there is much silent musing, with the camera happy to linger on faces. Lovingly framed long takes are the norm, though the slowness rarely devolves into mere dullness. When there is dialogue, it's rich and thought-provoking: "Words," says one character, quoting Socrates, "were invented to hide thoughts." The claustrophobically humid jungle setting is crucial to maintaining an atmosphere of constant menace.

Pic manages to retain an intimate documentary feel without sliding into handheld-camera cliche. Gerard Gil's daringly listen-to-me soundtrack combines electronic hums and buzzes with simple guitar-based themes.

Camera (color), Diego Dussuel Erazo; editor, Domi Parra; music, Gerard Gil; sound (Dolby Digital), Amanda Villavieja. Reviewed at Fotofilm screening room, Madrid, Sept. 7, 2009. (In San Sebastian Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 104 MIN.

Maren Ade on Her Couples' Characters Study, Everyone Else (Village Voice)

By Aaron Hillis
published: September 29, 2009

Following her 2003 debut The Forest for the Trees, 32-year-old German writer-director Maren Ade's trenchant, funny, and sensitive Everyone Else (Alle Anderen) cuts deeper than an Oscar season's worth of emotional turmoil. It's not so much about a deteriorating relationship between young architect Chris (Lars Eidinger) and rock publicist Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr, who snagged the Best Actress Award at this year's Berlinale) as it is an exploration of their vibrant yet volatile mismatched union over the span of a Sardinian vacation. Hardly as intense as her characters, at least in conversation, Ade spoke with the Voice from Berlin about her sophomore effort, one of the must-sees at this year's New York Film Festival.

As a character study, what were your initial storytelling goals with this film?

My first wish was to tell something about a couple who didn't yet show each other who they are. I wanted to make a film about a young love, and find out something about modern relationships, where the roles are not defined anymore. I watched a lot of films about couples. I'm a big fan of Scenes From a Marriage. I saw that several times—also La Notte. What interested me was this power struggle the two have, and the shift of power in their relationship—how it's very brutal for them.

Chris's emotional responses are more of what would be seen as traditionally feminine than Gitti's are. What interests you in gender roles?

I know a lot of relationships where the man is more sensitive than the woman, and I wanted to investigate that. The problem with Chris and Gitti is that they get insecure, so they start becoming afraid that maybe the other doesn't like them in this undefined male or female role. When they meet the other couple on holiday, they see something that they think they don't have—or Gitti thinks Chris would like a woman like this.

The title Everyone Else seems to refer to the other couples that Chris and Gitti feel both different from and better than. Was this your intention?

I should have translated Alle Anderen into, more like, All the Others. There's one moment in the film where Gitti says, "I don't want to be like all the others." Out of that sentence, I got the title. They don't want to be like all the others, and try very hard to be special, but on the other side, they orientate themselves [by comparison to others]. That is very human, or what I felt as typical for my generation.

You're often mentioned as part of the so-called "Berlin School" wave of filmmakers who sometimes collaborate together. Besides being an easy journalistic hook, is there anything positive that comes with that label, or does it simply pigeonhole the work?

No, there's something very positive about it because it's a real community. We all know each other very well. We meet, we talk about films, we exchange our thoughts. Everybody is friends with someone else, so it's not that I'm friends with everybody, but with some of them. If I can ask one of them to come to my editing room and see the film, it's a big help. But it's not like we said, "Ah, we are a group." It's more a practical friendship. For this script, I worked together with [Longing director] Valeska Grisebach and with [Bungalow director] Ulrich Köhler, and I also showed the film to [This Very Moment director] Christoph Hochhäusler.

Your sex scenes are very fluid and naturalistic. How did you approach these with Minichmayr and Eidinger?

It was a very long process, so we talked a lot about it. Very early, I asked them during the casting whether they could imagine doing a very free sex scene. You see much more of him than of her, and that idea came out of the rehearsals. In the beginning, I thought, "I have to show them films, and then they will see what a good result can be, so they can be more free." But I found this was not the right way. For example, we watched Andy Warhol's Blue Movie, but it was more embarrassing for them to see together because it was too explicit. [Laughs.] They wanted to do it. They are theater actors. For them, it was not such a big thing to do. They work with their body. We rehearsed it all clothed, and then they took off their clothes and it worked—easy and fast.

Everyone Else will screen at the New York Film Festival on October 4 and 5.


"Where The Wild Things Are" OST - Karen O. And The Kids (2009)

You would be hard-pressed to find another film as anticipated this fall as Where The Wild Things Are. Directed by Spike Jonze and with a screenplay written by Dave Eggers, this film became a triple threat the day it was announced that Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs wrote the soundtrack, along with her YYY's bandmates, Brian Chase and Nick Zinner, and a few guests like Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Aaron Hemphill of the Liars. It's hard to judge the soundtrack accurately, since I haven't seen the film yet, but forgetting that fact, it's clear from one listen that Karen O. has done the film (and book, for that matter) justice. A twinkling xylophone starts the soundtrack off, and that childlike theme continues throughout the rest of the songs. Half-shouted cries and jangly guitars rule lead single, "All Is Love," turning Karen's enthusiasm into some of the most infectious indie-pop you've heard in a long time. An outro of children shrieking leads into the handclapping of "Capsize," with Karen acting as head cheerleader, spelling out words amidst angular guitars and lush atmospherics. Scaling back on the peppiness, Karen also shows off what got her where she is in the first place: her ability to write the most heart-breaking ballads ever. "Worried Shoes" and "Cliffs" are both evocative and clear standouts that you know will sound amazing wherever they're placed in the film. If you're already excited for this movie (and seriously, what is wrong with you if you're not?), this soundtrack is the perfect companion to whet your appetite even further.

Spain sends Trueba pic to Oscars (Variety)

Ricardo Darin, por duplicado al Oscar...

MADRID — Fernando Trueba's "The Dancer and the Thief" has been chosen as Spain's foreign-language Oscar contender.

"Dancer" beat out Daniel Sanchez-Arevalo's "Gordos" and Isabel Coixet's "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," which also made a three-pic shortlist announced Sept. 14 by Spain's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Produced by Cristina Huete and sold by 6 Sales, "Dancer" is a classically hewn tale of high-romance between three Chilean outsiders, two ex-cons, one a famed safe-cracker (played by Ricardo Darin), and a mute wannabe ballet dancer.

"Dancer" marks the first fiction feature for seven years from Trueba. It world preemed out-of-competition at the recent San Sebastian Film Festival.

In choosing "Dancer," Spanish Academy members have plumped for the director with the best track record with the American Academy: Trueba won a foreign-language Oscar for "Belle Epoque" in 1993.

Pedro Costa: The Second Story, by Quintin (Sight & Sound)


"Where the Wild Things Are", de Spike Jonze (TV Spots)

Crossing the Threshold: Interview with Pedro Costa (Sight & Sound)

The films of Pedro Costa have reinvented the relationship between film-maker and subject. Kieron Corless talks to the Portuguese director

The films of the 50-year-old Portuguese director Pedro Costa have been captivating audiences on the festival circuit for nearly 20 years, but with the exception of a one-cinema release for his Colossal Youth (see S&S May and June 2008) none has so far been distributed in Britain. Now, with a complete Costa retrospective at Tate Modern in late September and several DVD releases pending through Second Run and Eureka/Masters of Cinema, British cinephiles can finally acquaint themselves with his singular talent, which first expressed itself in visually striking early works such as O Sangue (1989) and Casa de Lava (1994). However, it was the so-called Fontainhas trilogy – Ossos (1997), In Vanda’s Room (No Quarto da Vanda, 2000) and Colossal Youth (Juventude em Marcha, 2006) – which really made the world sit up and take notice; the latter two in particular are widely regarded as key films of the last 20 years.

Costa’s discovery of Fontainhas, a ghetto neighbourhood on the outskirts of Lisbon that’s home to impoverished immigrants from Portugal’s former colony the Cape Verde Islands, led to his increasing disillusionment with industrial film-making and his switch to small-scale digital work. Costa’s subsequent films made with non-professional actors essentially playing versions of their own often bleak lives were underpinned by his striving for a truly collaborative and more rigorous film-making practice – ‘a cinema made with justice’, as he styles it, drawing for its inspiration on the likes of John Ford, Chaplin, Ozu and Straub-Huillet. (Straub, in particular, he calls his "master".)

How did you start in film?

After film school in 1981, like everyone I got some small jobs on productions – getting the sandwich for the actor, driving the car. I was young, it was money – actually I earned much more money than I am earning now – and I was a bit afraid, I have to say. I didn’t like what I saw. I worked for six or seven years as assistant. Every film I worked on I saw the same thing: a lot of tragedies and massacres, producers against directors, crews that weren’t interested in the film, directors panicking. So I kept wondering, Is this the life I want to have? But this was a moment when state funding started here and Portuguese films were a bit fashionable. There were a lot of film-makers coming here – Wenders, Ruiz, Tanner etc, and the producer Paulo Branco was very active. So there was a lot of energy, let’s say, and I got some money to do a first film, O Sangue.

What was influencing you at that time?

The English band Wire and Godard and Straub were my heroes. And they all seemed exactly the same thing for me. Not at all difficult or intellectual. Very simple, very practical, talking about day-to-day life, and very sensual – the most sensual films and the most sensual music. But it could also be Ozu; some felt he was traditional or reactionary, but for me he was the most advanced, progressive, the fastest of film-makers. I felt contemporary to these things, and less to the films that were made during and after the Portuguese revolution, documentaries that were made here and everywhere at that time, left-wing things saying "Cinema is a weapon" and all this bullshit.

You’re mainly associated with the loose trilogy you made in Fontainhas – ‘Ossos’, ‘In Vanda’s Room’, ‘Colossal Youth’. How did you come to that neighbourhood?

I made my second film in Cape Verde, called Casa de Lava. I wanted to do this story which actually was a remake of [Jacques Tourneur’s 1943] I Walked with a Zombie, or it was supposed to be, with zombies and dogs and strange people. And then when we made it, of course it was not at all a remake, but a very difficult thing to do because we had to bring everything, even our own electricity and trucks. It was a mini-Apocalypse Now for us, but what was good for me was I felt a possible way of doing things, of being closer to some people, real people. In fact in the last days I got close to the people in the village where we shot. On the last day when we were leaving, they gave me a big plastic bag full of letters and tobacco and rice and coffee for their relatives who were here in Lisbon, in Fontainhas. I knew where the place was – it was a real ghetto and really dangerous. I spoke some creole and so when I found the people there, I was immediately accepted because I brought messages. And then they kept inviting me, "You must come to dinner tomorrow, you must come Saturday to this party," and I began staying.

Why did you keep going back? What attracted you?

I have to admit that my first attraction was almost sensual, plastic – the colours, the skin colours, the way they talked. It was a lot of music, hearing sounds. I thought this could be a nice world for me to try to film. Even the place seemed like a small studio: all the houses and the street – it was like a set.

How did ‘Ossos’ come about – it seems like the transitional film in your career?

I met Vanda [Duarte], her mother, sister and then another guy, and then I just got this idea of a baby being born and the parents not wanting it. They want to sell it, which was a common story, a cliché, in that kind of place, that kind of world, I learned a lot of things with that film, because at the same time as I was beginning to think I had found something and I had found a world, at least some people that I really like, and that those people were going to be in front of the camera, still I had a problem behind the camera which in that film was a big, big mess.

So out of this experience you started thinking of a new approach?

I was in fact already thinking about the next film, a correct approach and way of working in that place – about the organisation and about how you keep film in its place so it’s not a violating thing, a police thing. There’s a lot of things that I cannot do in that place. I cannot say, "Silence" – it’s absurd. It means "Don’t talk. Stop the music" – and that’s what I like! So it’s step by step, and it took me a long time.

How important was Vanda Duarte in taking you to this new place?

In Ossos she was the one who resisted all the time. Everything you read about Mitchum, when he was, "Yeah, yeah I’ll do it" – and then he did something else. Same with Vanda. She was never on the spot for the light, never. When I said "Good morning," she would say "Good night." She hated the cables, the guys, the trucks – she said this was completely fake. So she gave me the reason.

By the end of the shoot I was completely exhausted, and she said, "Come back and try to do it in another way. Come to my room and stay a bit and think." So there was this kind of invitation to do something with her in her room, which for me was a dream because a room, a girl, a camera – well, for a heterosexual film-maker it can be very tempting. So I thought about that and just went there, bought this camera, put it in my backpack and began coming. No project, just this room and this girl.

So this was the start of the process that eventually led to ‘In Vanda’s Room’?

In fact two months after I was there she came to her room with stuff and said, "Are you still thinking about something?" I said, "Yeah, we’re doing it." It was so small, she didn’t realise there was something happening. That was good because nobody was paying attention. They knew it was another film, but it was not about glamour, it was more concrete – there was just one guy. I tried to show them that it is also very hard and I had to be there every day, for myself, for discipline.

Could you describe in a bit more detail how you work with the digital camera?

When I am making a shot with a very small video camera it is exactly like making the shots I did before. The work is done with exactly the same gentleness and care and precision. You have to be much more careful, actually – you should take it slower. These cameras seem to have a sticker saying, "Move me or do what you want" – but you should not move it. You should take your time, do it slow, think. For me it is like a microscope – it’s much more risky than shooting in 35.

Can you say something about how you work on a day-to-day basis?

It’s about having a common idea and making it happen. Some very fragile and simple tools – a camera, a mic – and some props, very simple things from the neighbourhood. They dress how they dress. But it’s from eight to seven, or nine to ten in the evening, every day. Colossal Youth was made from Monday to Saturday, then Sunday rest, for one-and-a-half years, with some pauses. We have the freedom of not shooting when we don’t feel like it. We have the freedom, if Ventura [the lead actor in Colossal Youth] is not well or Vanda, we do not force them to work of course, and that creates a very good spirit because they actually become more committed. That’s a good part of this method. The film takes its own pace. It’s much more in your body, in the body of your actors; it becomes daily, it becomes work.

Do you rehearse?

Actually I’m doing something that I always dreamed of, doing exactly what Chaplin did when he started, which was rehearsing on film. Like in that Brownlow documentary about Chaplin, Unknown Chaplin, you can see he worked on film. He never rehearsed or tried anything without filming, without having the camera on, and that helps a lot. It takes solemnity and mystery out of the camera. The camera shouldn’t be a mystery.

You’re famous for doing a large number of takes. What are the advantages of that method?

There’s something about repetition – of course with some liberty, they are not nailed to the ground – that makes sense, that connects them to life. For [people in Fontainhas] much more than for other classes, their life is repetition – there’s nothing that’s going to change.

I think the record was 80 takes, but it needed 80 takes. We could do 30, 40, 50... Of course these takes are not made like in other films in one day, they are made in weeks. We could spend almost months doing a scene or just two scenes. There are no bosses or producers coming; we just feel that if it’s there, we cannot go any further, then we stop. And it’s good for them to have this discipline, to understand they can conquer their fear and insecurity and do it better, and tell it better. They can get to a point where it’s more clear and more mysterious at the same time.

How do you manage to survive financially?

It’s very simple making a budget – it’s having the money just to live every month, me and three or four friends. One for the sound, one to help me with the camera, another to assist me, and the actors of course. We try always to have this balance or harmony, all being paid more or less the same. That helps a lot. And in this kind of place it’s very important. It tells them film isn’t something special. I want to teach them that cinema is not a luxury, it’s not just made for very rich and glamorous people – it can be made with less money, it can be made with justice. It’s more about that than the artistic work for me. And that’s very good, because they now understand that. At the same time it’s very, very hard – it’s real work. But it’s something that has a relation still to the real world, and that was something I didn’t find in the films I assisted on, even some films I made with crews.

How have the people in Fontainhas responded to the films you made in the community?

That is what some of my colleagues don’t have, the ones that work in the more normal way – they don’t have this immediate critique that I have. You can imagine that after In Vanda’s Room, all the neighbourhood said, "Yeah, it’s great, it’s very beautiful, but there’s a lot of drugs. We are not about drugs and now you should show some other things." It was very serious, it was very Maoist. I defended myself. I said, "Yeah, well it’s my thing about you." This kind of thing is very useful to me: it’s my fear of not losing touch with this thing that I am associating with cinema, this part of humanity or reality that I think was always there since the beginning – and sometimes it’s not there enough even in documentaries you see.

A retrospective of Pedro Costa’s films screens at Tate Modern from 25 September to 4 October. ‘O Sangue’ is released on DVD on 21 September, followed by ‘Casa de Lava’, ‘In Vanda’s Room’ and ‘Colossal Youth’ in early 2010


Evening Class Interview With Juan José Campanella

By Michael Guillen

Yesterday's announcement that Juan José Campanella's
The Secret in Their Eyes / El Secreto de sus ojos (2009) has been chosen as Argentina's Oscar® submission for the 82nd Academy Awards® toggled me to transcribe my conversation with director Campanella from the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, where The Secret in Their Eyes received critical acclaim and sold-out audiences to its international premiere, following suit with a similar response at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Trade reviews on the film have been strong. At Variety, Jonathan Holland hailed the film as "mesmerizing"; at The Hollywood Reporter, Deborah Young called it "riveting"; at Screen International, Mike Goodridge cited that the film "packs an emotional punch"; and Twitch teammate Todd Brown characterized Campanella's direction as "remarkably steady and assured."

The Secret in Their Eyes is also making history in Argentina, as the number one box office hit film for the past five weeks. Audiences have been raving and discussing the film in the media and in cafés and restaurants throughout Argentina.

Campanella—who was previously nominated for an Oscar® in 2001 for his film Son of the Bride—responded to the news: "I am very proud of my film, and the response it is getting from audiences around the world and in Argentina is tremendous. I am excited to represent Argentina in this year's Oscar® competition." Campanella works in both Argentina and the United States. In the U.S., he continues to be a favorite director amongst TV shows including House, MD, Law and Order: SVU, and 30 Rock.

The Secret in Their Eyes concerns Benjamín Espósito, a secretary of a court in Buenos Aires, who is about to retire. He decides to write a novel based on a case that deeply affected him 30 years past. Espósito's tale crosses Argentina's turbulent years during the 1970s, when nothing was necessarily what it seemed to be. As Diana Sanchez writes in her TIFF program capsule: "Campanella's tightly paced feature pairs smart dialogue with powerful, moving performances. Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil, two of Argentina's best actors, bring an electric sense of unspoken longing to their scenes together, an intimacy of mutual suppression."

Campanella and I tucked away into the bar at Sutton Place to discuss his film where—above the frenetic din—he held me captivated with his enthusiasm and affable sense of humor. My thanks to David Magdael for arranging same. [This conversation is not for the spoiler-wary!!]

* * *

Michael Guillén: Juan José, the script to El Secreto de sus ojos is attractive for being complex. Can you speak to its structure? Did you write the script? Was it based on a novel?

Juan José Campanella: It's based on a novel La Pregunta and I co-wrote the script with the novelist Eduardo Sacheri.

Guillén: I presume the novel was popular in Argentina?

Campanella: In terms of popularity, Sacheri is a popular writer of short stories. This was his first novel and I don't think it did as well as his short stories, though of course now it is selling more than it sold in the last four years.

Guillén: My understanding is that an image in the novel of an old man eating by himself provoked your adapting it into a film?

Campanella: No, that's not completely true. I'm a fan of Sacheri's so—when I was reading the novel—I wasn't reading it with the idea of making a movie. The novel started with a writer starting a novel in several ways—which we kept in the movie—and I thought, "Wow. It's more cinematic than I thought it was going to be." But then I got lost in the story and I really liked it. For a while I fiddled with the idea of making the novel into a movie. I worked with Fernando Castets, my writing partner for my previous movies, including Son of the Bride (2001); but, we abandoned it. As a filmmaker, I couldn't find what resonated with me so we dropped it. But for a year, that image of the old man having dinner by himself—an image that didn't end up in the movie, by the way—made me sad.

For some reason when women become widows, they start living. In restaurants all over the world you always see four old ladies having the time of their lives, chattering and laughing. That doesn't seem to happen with guys. When guys are alone in their old age, they become sad for some reason. That image kept coming back to me and the fact that it could trigger a police story, a thriller, with a great mix of genre and humanity, a human drama. The novel also gave a strong personal motivation rather than just finding the criminal. The story was not just about a detective trying to solve a case; he's trying to solve his life, which is what I liked the most about the novel.

The main change from the novel was to make the character of Irene (Soledad Villamil) bigger. In the novel she's just a sort of Dulcinea. She's a woman who's worked at the court all of these years that Espósito (Ricardo Darín) has been in love with; but, she has no involvement in this case from the past, none whatsoever. She's just an image he sees all through these years. When I thought of bringing her story forward and making it as strong as the procedural aspect of the story, that's when it clicked in me. It took over a year for that to happen.

Guillén: So when you decided to serve this story—as you phrased it—"like a piece of meat on a plate of genre", and approached the novelist, was he willing to work with you?

Campanella: I had told him, "I would love to work with you." He had worked in the justice system in that building for many years and knew the legal language well. Also, I wanted the experience of working with another writer; but I told him, "You have to pretend that this is a game. We're going to toy around and deconstruct and make a different version out of your novel." It's as if I were working with Shakespeare and making Hamlet in space with Chinese actors. I told him, "If you have fun with that, then it will be great. If you start defending every word from the novel, then it's not going to work out."

Guillén: It's wonderful that Sacheri was willing to cooperate with you.

Campanella: Totally! But believe me, at some points I had to stop him.

Guillén: I imagine one of the reasons the story spoke to me is because I am retired from the judiciary where I worked for an Associate Justice. I grew tired of the judiciary for many of the selfsame reasons Espósito grew tired: bureaucratic delays, internal corruption, and court politics. My editor at Twitch commented that there are three narratives going on at once in your film—a crime thriller, a political editorial reflecting Argentina's past, and a love story—but, truthfully, I felt the real story was the love story.

Campanella: I think so. It starts and ends with that.

Guillén: It starts and ends many times. [Laughter.] Can you speak to that provocative narrative device? I'll be honest with you, when I caught the film at its press screening, it came towards what we thought was the end of the film, it faded to black, and we started to get up to leave when suddenly the next scene came on. So we sat back down, the scene unfolded to what we thought was the end, it faded to black and we got up to leave and, once again, the next scene started. This happened about five times!

Campanella: That physical confusion only happens at press screenings in a film festival because critics are already anticipating when they're going to leave to get to their next screening, so they're often leaving five minutes before the film is finished—it's maddening!—but, I can explain.

Guillén: Please do.

Campanella: Returning to the structure of the film, there are two strong themes. I was very much into Beethoven at the time three years ago. By chance, just before we started shooting the film, I had started listening to one of those audio courses offered through The Teaching Company about Beethoven's sonatas. I started thinking, "Wow, these sonatas are like the perfect structure for a script." This solid structure of the sonata played perfectly with two themes: the tonic and the dominant with the modulating bridges. In going from one story to another, I tried to make sure that we wouldn't be changing tempo and theme at the same time. When we switched from one narrative to another, we were still in the same energy. We would only change the energy within one theme. We had to find all these bridges to modulate from one narrative to the other easily, to flow in and out of all the themes: starting with theme one, theme two, then back again to theme one, theme two, and then the development of the coda; the end where everything gets mixed up. We worked with that sonata structure in mind. I became obsessed. All I could hear for a year was Beethoven sonatas, just to incorporate them into the film instinctively. This script in particular is patterned on Beethoven's piano sonata no. 14, the "Moonlight" sonata. As one theme would start to end, the other would start one bar before so that you never felt a fall. For me, the end of the movie, the end of the dramatic piece, is the scene with the cage.

Guillén: Interesting. When I was speaking to my editor about this, he felt the scene with the cage was the film's true ending and I agreed to a certain extent, except at the same time I understood the next scenes: the visit to the graveyard and the eventual commitment of Irene and Espósito to each other.

Campanella: To continue speaking musically, it's returning to the home key. That's the love story, which is the one that starts Espósito's fate. But that scene is more of an epilogue. The dramatic climax is the scene with the cage. I had two challenges there. In order for the scene with the cage to be surprising, for it to totally work, it had to be based on Morales (Pablo Rago) and his stated assertion that he did not believe in the death penalty. When he tells Espósito the story about how he killed Gómez (Javier Godino) in the trunk of the car, that had to play as the climax of the movie. If it wasn't played as the climax with the swelling music and the whole thing, then as an audience you would have an inner feeling that something was missing, like there's one more beat, and you're going to start looking for that beat. So that scene has to play like it's the end of the movie. A lousy end, a very obvious end, but I don't mind if for a second you think that it's a bad ending; it has to feel like the ending. So that comes at the price of already having one ending that is not the real ending, you know? But I feel that was an appropriate price to pay for the surprise of the dramatic ending of the scene with the cage.

Guillén: That false ending of Morales confessing to Espósito that he had killed Gómez did strike me as formulaic; but, I didn't buy it really because of that one moment when Morales drew the curtains. You gave us that cue. I knew he was hiding something and what he was hiding had not yet been revealed.

Campanella: Ah, you picked that out?

Guillén: Yes. I took your hint that there was something still hidden despite Morales' confession.

Campanella: Many people suspect that Morales killed his own wife.

Guillén: That suspicion also crossed my mind. Did you intend that?

Campanella: Through a lot of the movie, yes. We had to have another suspect. I mean what kind of a thriller would it be without more than one suspect?

Guillén: I recall a specific montage where you implicate Morales in his wife's murder and cast suspicion upon him; but, it didn't stick with me because—as Espósito explained to Irene—Morales' eyes revealed just how much he loved his wife.

Campanella: It was one of the toughest parts of the movie. Not the toughest part to act but the toughest part to make the right acting choices. Because Morales is a guy where two contradictory personalities co-exist: one is a guy who is passionate enough about the wife he's lost that he's stuck for his entire life in the memory of her and the memory of their broken love. But at the same time he's a guy who's so cold and methodical that he can—step by step, without telling anyone—prepare the cage to imprison Gómez and keep him there, visiting him twice a day without speaking to him. He's a hot personality and a cold personality at the same time. Our choices—I don't know if they were the right ones or not—were to make Morales contained in his emotions when he first hears about the death of his wife. Because he didn't break down and start crying, some people suspect him of the murder.

We actually didn't intend that in the first draft; but, I have six or seven people I trust to read my draft scripts, and a few of them said, "You know, I thought the murderer was Morales." That was a great help because I needed another suspect. I needed more options. C'mon, we all love thrillers and we like to try to figure them out with the protagonists in the film. The more options, the more that can happen, the better. So from the second draft on we played in a subtle way with the idea that Morales could be the murderer, even though when you see the movie it's apparent he's not.

Guillén: I think a thriller works best on a first viewing. Later, when you've pieced together all the clues, a thriller can be appreciated for its mechanics, for all its questions and red herrings.

Campanella: But, at the same time, I didn't want to end everything with question marks, even though I wanted to leave it to the audience to decide whether Espósito tells on Morales or not. That's actually what audiences in Argentina are going crazy about. They argue, "Is Campanella supporting vigilante justice?" I knew that was an answer I didn't want to provide in the movie; but, I wanted to provide at least one answer and I wanted to end the last story, the love story, and come back to the home key.

When we started writing the script, I knew we couldn't go from the scene with the cage—which, hopefully, if it worked, would be a strong dramatic scene—to the next scene where Espósito professes his love to Irene. I needed a little bit of time for the audience to make the transition and that's when we came up with the idea of Espósito taking flowers to the grave of his friend Sandoval (
Guillermo Francella). It was related to the case because Sandoval was killed during the case; but, it was also related to the love story. Sandoval is associated with both stories. That scene served as a bridge and perhaps also contributed to the feeling of yet another ending. I can understand the criticism that the film has too many endings, but it was the best of the possibilities I had to work with.

Guillén: I admire the quality of the meta-narrative in this film, as if the story was being written and the film was being shot through Espósito's memory. As if memory was questioning itself and trying to get the story right through multiple drafts. That was especially pronounced in the scene where Irene has read Espósito's manuscript, which ends with the parting scene at the train station, and complains that—if that was really what happened—why didn't Espósito do anything about it? Why did he leave her behind? With a certain amount of vested resentment, she criticized, "This is a lousy ending." That's why the film's final love scene feels so satisfying because he actually does something about their love for each other, even if "it will be complicated." You got the sense it was going to finally work between them.

Campanella: [Laughs.] Yes.

Guillén: As the film's title suggests, this is definitely a movie about eyes, about clues in the eyes. The rhyme between the group photograph that reveals Gómez staring at his future victim, and the group photograph that reveals Espósito staring longingly at Irene, is an exquisite rhyme. Was that in the novel?

Campanella: No. The group photo of Gómez looking at his future victim is in the novel but I came up with the other one.

Guillén: A deft stroke! It made me concentrate on the faces of your actors and, of course, their eyes. All of your actors have amazing eyes. Which leads me to ask, once you developed the script and went to cast the film, can you speak to how you found the eyes you needed to reflect the titular secrets of your story?

Campanella: Luckily, I have known all of these actors from other films where we have worked together. Except for Guillermo Francella who plays Sandoval, I worked with all the others. This was my fourth movie working with Ricardo Darín. In fact, both Ricardo and Soledad were the couple in my first movie several years ago. I had made a mini-series with Pablo Rago, who plays Morales. I think Pablo is a little Pacino. He's great and he's going to age in an interesting way. He's only in his early thirties. Even though I'd never worked with Guillermo Francella, he's a number one star in Argentina. At the box office, he's bigger than Ricardo, but more as a comic. He's kind of like Jim Carrey, not so much in style, but in his popularity for his broad humor.

Guillén: He lends considerable humor to your film as well.

Campanella: Exactly; but, not anywhere near the wild antics you can see him do in his other movies. I needed a strong actor with less screen time who could be equally and emotionally heavy as the other actors. No other supporting character actor had that ability. I needed a leading man to play that mousey character. But you're right, they all have amazing eyes, which I think are the markings of a movie star. They tell you it's in the eyes. It's not because they're green or blue—because Pablo has black eyes and you still see a lot in them—but, it's their acting ability. Even Javier Godino who plays the murderer has ambrosian features. I knew they were all going to be right.

When I was reading the novel, I had three actors immediately in mind: Ricardo, Soledad and Pablo. I saw Pablo playing the accountant Morales even though in the novel he is described differently as tall, lanky and blonde, which has nothing to do with Pablo; but, for some reason I imagined Pablo because I had just worked with him and I realized his eyes would work. I had never done such extreme close-ups before. I even had to find excuses to isolate the eyes. I wanted to have key moments where the audience would only look at the eyes.

Guillén: You captured excellently the choreography of looking, how a glance happens, most effectively in the scene where Irene catches Gómez obsessively staring at her breasts, convincing her that Espósito might be correct in his suspicion that Gómez was the murderer. That interchange of glances, without any words, was excellently rendered.

Campanella: Thank you so much.

Guillén: Though I'm admittedly unfamiliar with the work of Soledad Villamil, you elicited a wonderful performance from her. There was so much humor and love expressed in her eyes; what Diana Sanchez described in the program notes as "unspoken longing" and "an intimacy of mutual suppression." They also expressed her complicity and the compromises she had made.

Campanella: And the repression! There's a scene that I love so much where's she's really good. Espósito is asking her to reopen the case. At first she thought he was going to propose to her and then it ends up that he wants her to reopen the case. We hear his voice saying about Morales, "You cannot imagine what this guy's eyes look like. It's like love." She looks at him with such longing in her eyes flecked with anger that she can't talk about it. Soledad is wonderful, yeah.

Guillén: For a police procedural with such a grim subject—the rape and murder of a young bride—I was surprised by the film's ongoing humor. The humor was pitched perfectly alongside these horrific events.

Campanella: Thank you.

Guillén: Was that humor in the novel?

Campanella: Some it was, yes. Sandoval's habit of answering the phone and always pretending that he's somewhere else, that's in the novel and is based on reality. That's based on a character that worked with the novelist who always used to do that. His joke was to come up with increasingly wilder places. But, of course, there are whole scenes that are not in the novel. For example, Espósito and Sandoval never go to Gómez's house to look for the letters. The soccer stadium scene is not in the novel. The fact that they catch Gómez because of his passion for soccer is not in the novel.

Guillén: That rhythm of pacing the humor with the film's more serious aspects, does that come for you in the editing process?

Campanella: No, in the writing. I tend to write more humor than ends up in the movie. Ricardo and Guillermo are accomplished comedians—Guillermo, as I told you, is a comic—and we share a similar sensibility so that during read through and rehearsal, several weeks before we start shooting, we start choosing the humor that helps a scene and crossing out the humor that stops a scene or makes the scene too self-conscious. Basically in two afternoons we pared down the script. After working with that kind of style through a few movies, the writing becomes more intuitive so that there's less to correct when we get to rehearsal. I remember in Son of the Bride we did a lot of trimming.

Guillén: I'm intrigued by villainous portrayals. In El Secreto de sus ojos there are bad guys who I would characterize as cut from dark broadcloth. They're obviously bad and corrupt and you don't like their characters from the moment they're introduced and they never redeem themselves throughout the narrative. However, the villainry that affected me the most in your film was all the complicity with governmental corruption; the willingness to look away to further personal ambition, which—as an audience member—forces me to question my own capacity for complicity, my own lapses in integrity. Would I make similar choices? Would my job be more important than love or securing justice?

Campanella: You're observing all the mysteries in the main characters, the good guys. That's actually part of the debate in Argentina about the movie. Everyone understands in Argentina the choices they made in the past. As a society, we made choices. Evil crept up on us. It's a little bit like what happened to Americans after 9/11. Many liberties were taken away and people accepted that because they were afraid. In this story, when these corruptions begin happening in the government, guerillas were killing people, bombing, there was terrorism, and the Argentine people started looking the other way. Not with regard to saying, "Come kill them all", no, no, they would never do that; but, just looking the other way.

The scene that plays powerfully in Argentina is the elevator scene where Gómez has evaded punishment and threatens Irene and Espósito. Thank God it works because—when I was editing it—I was doubtful: "Does this work?" But it did work because it represents a society that has shut up and shut down; a society that has accepted fear. That's why I chose to set the movie in the pre-dictatorship days rather than during the dictatorship because everyone in those pre-dictatorship days were already succumbing to fear by refusing to talk about it. I wanted to show that moment where they make the choice of shutting up, looking away, and running away.

Guillén: For me that scene was important because it revealed Gómez for the unbridled monster that he was and, thus, later when I discovered Morales had kept him caged for years and had punished him further by never speaking to him, I didn't feel pity for Gómez, his punishment seemed justified, and—if anything—I felt for the darkness in Morales.

Campanella: You know, these kinds of things happened at that time. The military and government would have meetings with union leaders and start off negotiations by placing their gun on the desk. It was an intimidating act. It was a definite phallic symbol, even though these thugs knew nothing about psychology or phallic symbols.

Guillén: But they understood intimidation and power.

Campanella: Exactly. Still, there's a distinction in the movie that Gómez has not been freed by justice. He confessed and was convicted by the justice system. Morales hasn't taken justice into his own hands; but, he has taken over the execution of the justice that had been meted out by the court.

Guillén: By indirectly referencing the political shadows of Argentina's past, do you mean to suggest that the love story in El Secreto reflects a healing for Argentina?

Campanella: I think so. There are certain questions in the night that one might choose at a certain moment for whatever reason to not answer; to just let go. But those questions will always come back to haunt you. Argentina as a country is revisiting the '70s and those questions that have been haunting us. Unfortunately, in the '90s we sought to cover them up and ignore them; but, the truth remains that those questions will always come back to haunt you. These are questions that have to be dealt with in order for Argentina to move on. There are several things in Espósito that help him finally talk to Irene. He acknowledges that, in a way, though it seems he is stuck in the cage with Gómez and Morales, he's likewise been stuck in the cage of his impossible love for a woman who he has lost because of the impossibility of his love for her. There was a brief mention that he had married but was unable to love his wife. He shut himself off to love. In that scene with the cage where we see the three men through bars, Espósito is the one who can truly get away. Knowing what has happened, he heads for his love.

Guillén: Well, Juan José, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I wish you the best of luck with this project. I predict it will be Argentina's submission to the Academy Awards®.

Campanella: Well, there has been no other film that's won any festival awards.

Guillén: You're being far too modest. The film is enormously entertaining and ambitious. I believe audiences are going to be attracted to the film.

Campanella: It's the third movement of Beethoven's 14th sonata.

Guillén: Enjoy it!

Campanella: I will. Thank you so much.

Cross-published on

Roman Polanski es detenido en Suiza por una orden de arresto de EEUU (AFP)

ZÚRICH — El director de cine Roman Polanski fue arrestado el sábado al llegar a Suiza, donde iba a participar en el Festival de Cine de Zúrich, como consecuencia de una orden de detención de EEUU, anunciaron este domingo los organizadores del festival.

Polanski fue detenido en el marco de una acción judicial iniciada por las autoridades norteamericanas hace 30 años. El cineasta, hoy de 76 años de edad, fue detenido en Los Angeles en 1977 a raíz de una demanda judicial presentada por los padres de una adolescente de 13 años.

Entonces reconoció haber tenido "relaciones sexuales ilegales". Pasó en la época 47 días en prisión. A fines de 1978, al día siguiente de una reunión entre sus abogados y un juez, durante la cual éste dio a entender que volvería a ordenar su encarcelamiento, Roman Polanski tomó un avión hacia Europa, donde vive desde entonces.


Hush Arbors – Yankee Reality (2009)


Hush Arbors (born Keith Wood in Charlottesville, Virginia on April 30, 1977), is a Virginian folk musician. His music sees traditional folk merged with elements of country and psychedelic music, in the vein of other modern folk acts such as Six Organs of Admittance. Along with releasing solo material, he is also an occasional member of Current 93.

“When Keith played me Yankee Reality I knew it was not only the best Hush Arbors album, but also that Keith’s work had entered an entirely new world bursting with hauntings.

This is a classic, timeless, ageless American album, full of hope and yearning, beauty and melancholy, and which pours out stories like flowers. Are these rainbow-at-end-of-the-world songs? Or heart’s break/heart’s ease-at-the-end-of-the-road songs? Anyway, I thought of horses and acid, death sleeping in a shack, the river bursting its banks and grinning like whisky, the birdlight and fading empires. Starry, dreamlike, plaintive, gorgeous and broken, Yankee Reality is a perfect and utterly individual work, endlessly inventive yet instantly recognizable as being in a noble and generous tradition.

Yankee Reality sends shivers through my body when I listen to it. I don’t know where to start, because I don’t know where it ends. A circular masterpiece effortlessly stationed between the sea, the sun and the moon.”

~ David Tibet/Anok Pe/Current 93, August 2009

Festival de San Sebastián: "Los condenados", de Isaki Lacuesta, Premio FIPRESCI

No vi la película y por más que el tema y el tratamiento, a primera vista, me den un poco de escozor --¿otra peli más sobre este tema?--, casi que pongo las manos en el fuego por el talento como cineasta de Iñaki/Isaki. En algún momento le pregunté porqué quería hacer una película como "Los condenados" y su explicación me pareció valiosa. Espero que "Los condenados" llegue al BAFICI o algún otro festival local. Felicitaciones! O, como dicen por allí, "enhorabuena".

"Castro/Todos mienten", en el MALBA

Film del mes XLV

Todos mienten (Argentina, 2009), de Matías Piñeiro
Domingos a las 19:00

Un grupo de jóvenes se reúne en una casa abandonada en las afueras de Buenos Aires con la intención de organizar un golpe que va a terminar con las relaciones oscuras que los unen entre falsificaciones y amores, entre robos y besos y entre el arte plástico contemporáneo y la historia argentina del siglo XIX. Helena Pickford silenciosamente dispone sus fichas en este juego de lúdicas conspiraciones en las que el mejor consejo para quien guste ponerse a jugar es el de no creer una sola palabra de lo que se dice.

Ficha técnica
Dirección y guión: Matías Piñeiro
Producción: Iván Granovsky, Lionel Braverman y Pablo Chernov
Imagen: Fernando Lockett
Montaje: Delfina Castagnino
Sonido: Daniela Ale y Emilio Iglesias
Arte: Ana Cambre
Asistente de dirección: Alejo Franzetti
Elenco: Romina Paula, María Villar, Julia Martínez Rubio, Pilar Gamboa, Julián Tello, Julián Larquier Tellarini, Esteban Bigliardi, Esteban Lamothe.
País: Argentina
Año: 2009
Duración: 75’


Film del mes XLVI

Castro (Argentina, 2009), de Alejo Moguillansky
Domingos a las 20:30

Castro huye. Ha dejado atrás su vida, sobrevive escondido en un pequeño cuarto en una pequeña ciudad. Básicamente está sólo, pero en su vida ha aparecido una tal Celia. Celia es joven, es hermosa, es (a veces) cruel.
Celia y Castro sobreviven juntos sin trabajo ni dinero en sus vidas. Puede decirse (pero puede decirse lo mismo de cualquier pareja) que se aman. En un momento, abandonan su ciudad de provincia y se marchan a la Capital, a un nuevo refugio. Allí Castro emplea su tiempo en buscar trabajo. De a poco Castro descubre la contradicción: ganarse la vida es igual a desperdiciarla.
Del otro lado está el complot que los persigue, cada uno por diferentes razones: el antiguo maestro de Castro, Samuel, porque necesita de él; su antigua mujer, Rebecca Thompson, porque lo ama; el cínico Willy, por motivos no demasiado claros; el desafortunado Acuña, porque le pagan para que lo encuentre.
En algún momento los perseguidores rastrean a Castro y Celia hasta la Capital. En algún momento, Castro encuentra trabajo y abandona a Celia. En algún otro momento, el complot da con Celia en la pensión que compartía con Castro. En otro momento, Castro roba el auto de los perseguidores. En un momento, todo (perseguidores y perseguidos, sus estrategias y sus razones) tiende a confundirse.
Castro, por su parte, vuelve a huir. Esta vez, acaso, para siempre

Ficha técnica
Dirección y guión: Alejo Moguillansky
Producción: Mariano Llinás y Laura Citarella
Producción ejecutiva: Eduardo Costantini
Fotografía: Gustavo Biazzi
Sonido: Rodrigo Sánchez Mariño
Dirección coreográfica: Luciana Acuña
Montaje: Alejo Moguillansky y Mariano Llinás
Arte: Ana Cambre
Música: Ulises Conti
Elenco: Edgardo Castro, Julia Martínez Rubio, Carla Crespo, Esteban Lamothe, Alberto Suárez, Gerardo Naumann.
País: Argentina
Año: 2009
Duración: 85’

Entrada General: $13.- Estudiantes y jubilados: $7.-

Festival de San Sebastián: Premios

de FRANÇOIS OZON (Francia)
por "LA MUJER SIN PIANO" (España- Francia)
por "YO, TAMBIÉN" (España)
por "YO, TAMBIÉN" (España)

de Philippe Van Leeuw (Bélgica)
mención especial
de Matias Armand Jordal (Noruega)

de Adrián Biniez (Uruguay)
mención especial
"FRANCIA" de Israel Adrián Caetano (Argentina)


Antes de la Nouvelle Vague

El Complejo Teatral de Buenos Aires y la Fundación Cinemateca Argentina, en colaboración con la Embajada de Francia, han organizado un ciclo denominado Antes de la nouvelle vague, que se llevará a cabo del martes 29 de septiembre al martes 13 de octubre en la Sala Leopoldo Lugones del Teatro San Martín (Avda. Corrientes 1530).
Cincuenta años atrás, el Festival de Cannes de 1959 marcó el nacimiento oficial de la nouvelle vague, con la presentación simultánea de Los cuatrocientos golpes, de François Truffaut, e Hiroshima mon amour, de Alain Resnais. Y ese mismo año se les sumaría otro film clave de la época, Sin aliento, de Jean-Luc Godard. Desde las páginas de la legendaria revista Cahiers du Cinéma, tanto Truffaut como Godard habían atacado severamente al cine anterior, particularmente en el polémico artículo Una cierta tendencia del cine francés, en el que Truffaut denunciaba la falaz “tradición de calidad” de sus acartonadas adaptaciones literarias. Pero la nouvelle vague también supo aplicar la “teoría del autor” al mejor cine francés y encontrar su propia filiación en la obra de Jean Renoir, Jacques Becker, Robert Bresson, Sacha Guitry, Henri-Georges Clouzot y Jean-Pierre Melville, entre otros grandes cineastas que los antecedieron. Este ciclo recupera esos antecedentes fundamentales y los pone en perspectiva con el movimiento que cambió para siempre la concepción del cine moderno.
La agenda completa del ciclo es la siguiente:

Martes 29: Los cuatrocientos golpes
(Les 400 coups, Francia, 1959)
Dirección: François Truffaut.
Con Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Remy.
La nouvelle vague hace su ingreso triunfal al Festival de Cannes. “Con Los 400 Golpes, François Truffaut entra a la vez al cine moderno y a las aulas de nuestra infancia (…) Para resumir, ¿qué puedo decir? Sinceridad. Rapidez. Arte. Novedad. Cine. Originalidad. Impertinencia. Rigor. Tragedia. Renovación. Ubú Rey. Fantasía. Afecto. Universalidad. Ternura.” (Jean–Luc Godard)
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (90’; 16mm.)

Hiroshima mon amour
(Francia, 1959)
Dirección: Alain Resnais.
Con Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas.
Una francesa que se encuentra filmando una película en Hiroshima pasa la noche con un arquitecto japonés. La situación le recuerda al primer hombre que amó, un soldado alemán, durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.
"Si solo se trata, como dice René Clair, de 'contar una historia mediante imágenes', una vez contadas todas las historias, el arte de la puesta en escena no puede evolucionar más. Pero si se trata de liberar al cine de esa necesidad, entonces queda todo por hacer y Resnais dio un gran paso con Hiroshima mon amour, una película sin argumento, emotiva y bella” (François Truffaut).
A las 17 y 22 horas (90’, DVD.)

Miércoles 30: Bob le flambeur
(Francia, 1956)
Dirección: Jean-Pierre Melville.
Con Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey, Daniel Cauchy.
Bob, un viejo gangster además de jugador empedernido, está a punto de tocar fondo. A pesar de las advertencias de sus amigos, decide asaltar un casino de Deauville. Todo parece planeado a la perfección, pero la policía está informada del asalto y los resultados no serán los esperados. Este es el film que impulsó a Godard a rodar Sin aliento, en el cual el director Melville tuvo una pequeña pero significativa aparición como actor.
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (89’; 16mm).

Sin aliento
(À bout de souffle, 1959)
Dirección: Jean-Luc Godard.
Con Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Jean-Pierre Melville, Daniel Boulanger.
Michel, un ladrón de poca monta, roba un auto y luego asesina a un policía en un hecho absurdo. Enamorado de Patricia, una muchacha neoyorquina, el joven espera cobrar una deuda para huir con ella lejos de París. Con este sencillo argumento y un estilo todavía incandescente, la ópera prima de Jean-Luc Godard se transformó en la quintaesencia del cine moderno.
"Sin aliento obtuvo el premio Jean Vigo. En efecto, es un heredero de L’Atalante. El film de Vigo termina con Jean Dasté y Dita Parlo abrazándose en el lecho; ciertamente, esa noche, allí, ellos concibieron un niño: el Belmondo de Sin aliento” (François Truffaut).
A las 17 y 22 horas (87’, 35mm.)

Jueves 1º: Ascensor para el cadalso
(Ascenseur pour l'échafaud; Francia, 1958)
Dirección: Louis Malle.
Con Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly.
Julien Tavernier, héroe de la guerra de Indochina, trabaja para el industrial Simon Carala y es el amante de su esposa, Florence. Para poder vivir juntos ambos deciden matar al marido. En el debut del realizador Louis Malle, un crimen aparentemente perfecto se complica por obra del azar, sellando el destino de una pareja de amantes conjurados. La música del trompetista Miles Davis es una de las mejores bandas de sonido de toda la historia del cine, compuesta improvisando directamente frente a las imágenes del film.
“Estoy totalmente convencido de que toda la obra de un cineasta está contenida en su primera película. No es previsible a priori pero es constatable a posteriori. Todo lo que es Louis Malle, sus virtudes y sus defectos, están ya en Ascensor para el cadalso” (François Truffaut).
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (105’; 35mm.)

Casco de oro
(Casque d’or; Francia, 1952)
Dirección: Jacques Becker.
Con Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Claude Dauphin.
Marie es una bella prostituta del barrio de Montmartre que descubre el verdadero amor cuando conoce a Manda, un sencillo carpintero que sentirá lo mismo por ella.
"Para aquellos de nosotros que tenemos veinte años, el ejemplo de Becker es tanto una lección como un estímulo. Conocimos a Renoir ya como un genio, pero descubrimos el cine cuando Becker aún estaba en sus comienzos. Y su éxito es el de un hombre joven cuyo amor por el cine fue retribuido" (François Truffaut).
A las 17 y 22 horas (96'; 16mm)

Viernes 2: Las últimas vacaciones
(Les dernières vacances; Francia, 1948)
Dirección: Roger Leenhardt.
Con Odile Versois, Michel François, Jean Lara.
Un estudiante recuerda sus últimas vacaciones en la enorme casa de campo de su familia, ahora vendida, en lo que significó para el personaje el fin de la inocencia.
Sorprendentemente moderno para su época, el film de Leenhardt (un crítico de cine que se aventuró en la realización) privilegia los escenarios naturales por encima de la filmación en estudios, como se estilaba, y hace de su protagonista adolescente un evidente antecesor del Antoine Doinel de Los cuatrocientos golpes
A las 14.30 y 17 horas (95’; 16mm).

Sábado 3: Las damas del bosque de Boulogne
(Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne; Francia, 1945)
Dirección: Robert Bresson.
Con Paul Bernard, María Casares, Elina Labourdette.
Adaptación de un relato de Diderot, trasladado a los tiempos de la ocupación nazi en Francia, se centra en una mujer que busca castigarse a sí misma -y también a su amante- haciendo que este se case con una prostituta.
“Una tarde que falté al cine para ir al colegio apareció nuestro profesor de literatura y nos dijo: ‘ayer vi la película más estúpida que se puede imaginar: Las damas del bosque de Boulogne’. La crítica no fue mucho más amable. (…) Tras el fracaso comercial el film fue proyectado en los cine-clubs. Casi todos los críticos se retractaron al volver a verla” (François Truffaut).
"El único, auténtico film de la Resistencia Francesa" (Jean-Luc Godard).
A las 14.30 y 17 horas (84’; 16mm).

Domingo 4: El diablo rengo
(Le diable boiteux; Francia, 1948)
Dirección: Sacha Guitry.
Con Sacha Guitry, Lana Marconi, Émile Drain.
La tormentosa vida de Charles Maurice Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838), su trayectoria política, sus relaciones con Napoleón, Luis XVIII, Carlos X y Luis Felipe.
“Sacha Guitry ha pasado por la historia del cine riéndose de modas y de tendencias. No ha intentado nunca el realismo poético, el realismo psicológico o la comedia americana. Fue siempre Sacha Guitry, es decir, que a partir de un hallazgo, por lo general divertido, abordaba sus temas personales: las ventajas de la inconstancia amorosa, la utilidad social de los asociales (ladrones, asesinos, playboys, etc.) y siempre las paradojas de la vida. Y como la vida es paradójica, Sacha Guitry fue un cineasta realista” (François Truffaut).
A las 14.30 y 17 horas (125’; 16mm).

Lunes 5: No hay función

Martes 6: Las diabólicas
(Les diaboliques; Francia, 1955)
Dirección: Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Con Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot.
La esposa y la amante de un hombre que las ha maltratado deciden vengarse y asesinarlo, pero las cosas se complican. Un auténtico clásico del cine de suspenso, ambientado en un sórdido pueblo de provincia.
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (110’; 35mm.)

El cuervo
(Le Corbeau; Francia, 1943)
Dirección: Henry-Georges Clouzot.
Con Pierre Fresnay, Ginette Leclerc, Pierre Larquey.
Un pequeño pueblo de provincias, apacible y tranquilo, se ve conmovido por una serie de cartas anónimas, firmadas con el nombre "El Cuervo". Nadie parece estar a salvo a medida que los más ocultos secretos de los habitantes son revelados uno tras otro.
“El cuervo trata varios temas increíblemente audaces para la época: la delación, claro, y las cartas anónimas, peligrosas alusiones a una práctica muy en uso bajo la Ocupación. Pero también el aborto, un tema tabú, y el deseo sexual, tratado con una fuerza y una madurez que pocas películas de la última década suelen presentar, sea cual sea su país de origen. El cuervo es una película que consigue evocar su época con una aspereza, una violencia, una compasión extraordinarias” (Bertrand Tavernier).
A las 17 y 22 horas (93’; 16mm).

Miércoles 7 Nosotros los goupi
(Goupi mains rouges; Francia, 1943)
Dirección: Jacques Becker.
Con Fernand Ledoux, Robert Le Vigan, Georges Rollin.
En un pueblo de la región de Charentes, en Francia, viven cuatro generaciones de goupis. No se llevan siempre del todo bien pero, como suele decirse, lavan la ropa sucia en casa.
“Nosotros los goupi subvierte con suma habilidad el tema del retorno al campo tan del gusto del gobierno de Vichy. La crudeza de su retrato del mundo rural la convierte, como bien señala Jacques Siclier, en una de ‘las películas más negras, más anticonformistas de su época’. En ella, Becker da muestras de una maestría formal y dramática apabullantes, modernísimas: rechazo de un héroe central en beneficio de una multiplicidad de personajes, ausencia de maniqueísmo, dirección de actores espléndida, fotografía alejada del academicismo” (Bertrand Tavernier).
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (110'; 16mm)

Édouard y Caroline
(Édouard et Caroline; Francia, 1951)
Dirección: Jacques Becker.
Con Daniel Gélin, Anne Vernon, Elina Labourdette.
Edouard es un pianista casado con Caroline, una bella muchacha miembro de una familia burguesa que piensa que ese matrimonio la degrada. El tío de Caroline invita a la pareja a una fiesta en la que Edouard deberá tocar el piano, punto de partida de una serie de conflictos que no tardarán en hacer eclosión.
“Becker ha sido siempre un cineasta limitado, que ha aceptado sus limitaciones, que se impone limitaciones, que conoce sus limitaciones, que se esfuerza en superar unas y en respetar otras pero también sin ahorrarse el trabajo, experimentarlas y dándose así los mejores momentos de su obra (Goupi Tonkin en un árbol, los ojos de hiena en Édouard y Caroline, la guillotina en Casco de oro)” (François Truffaut).
A las 17 y 22 horas (88’; 35mm)

Jueves 8 Gervaise
(Francia/Italia, 1956)
Dirección: René Clément.
Con Maria Schell, François Périer, Jany Holt.
Gervaise es abandonada por su amante y se casa con un albañil. Trabajadora, instala su propia lavandería. Pero su marido cae de un techo, pierde su trabajo y comienza a beber. Un día aparece el ex amante, provocando una crisis en la pareja. La vida se torna insoportable y en un momento de crisis, el albañil destruye la lavandería. Basada en la novela de Emile Zola L´Assommoir.
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (112’; 16mm)

Crimen en París
(Quai des Orfèvres; Francia, 1947)
Dirección: Henry-Georges Clouzot.
Con Suzy Delair, Bernard Blier, Louis Jouvet.
Jenny, una ambiciosa cantante de music-hall que aspira a convertirse en estrella, despierta los celos de su marido coqueteando con varios admiradores, entre ellos un maduro hombre de negocios. Una noche, el marido decidirá enfrentarse al que considera su rival. Pero al llegar a su domicilio lo encontrará muerto.
A las 17 y 22 horas (106’; 16mm)

Viernes 9 : Luz de verano
(Lumière d'été; Francia, 1943)
Dirección: Jean Grémillon.
Con Madeleine Renaud, Pierre Brasseur, Paul Bernard.
Cricri es amante de Patrice, un aristócrata pervertido y ocioso. Cansado de esta relación, Patrice se interesa en la joven Michèle, pero ella sostiene una tormentosa relación con Roland, un artista frustrado, por el que ha dejado todo. Y durante una fiesta de disfraces asoma la máscara de la tragedia. Algunos historiadores del cine consideran a Luz de verano como el mejor film francés rodado durante el período de la Ocupación. Comparado habitualmente con la obra maestra de Jean Renoir, La regla del juego, por su contraste entre dos clases sociales irreconciliables, el film de Grémillon tiene una banda sonora de gran complejidad, que fue determinante en las experiencias posteriores de Jean-Marie Straub. Un auténtico tesoro escondido del cine francés.
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (112’; 16mm)

French Cancan
(Francia/Italia; 1954)
Dirección: Jean Renoir.
Con Jean Gabin, Françoise Arnoul, María Félix.
Un pequeño local nocturno en París no obtiene ganancias y el dueño teme perder el negocio, por lo que decide dar al club un lavado de cara para hacer de él un cabaret con variados y coloridos números musicales. Jean Renoir evoca el pasado, los tiempos de su padre Auguste, mientras relata el nacimiento del famoso “Moulin Rouge”.
“Si Jean Renoir ha llegado a evocar sobre la pantalla, de manera válida para el ojo humano, una cierta época de la pintura, no lo ha hecho jamás mediante una imitación exterior de sus características formales, sino situándose de nuevo dentro de una cierta inspiración a partir de la cual su puesta en escena se ordena espontánea y naturalmente. (…) ¡French Cancan significa una vuelta a sus orígenes, el más bello homenaje ante la tumba de Auguste Renoir!” (André Bazin).
A las 17 y 22 horas (102’; 35mm).

Sábado 10: Una vida
(Une vie; Francia/Italia; 1958)
Dirección: Alexandre Astruc.
Con Maria Schell, Christian Marquand, Pascale Petit.
Una mujer vive una aburrida existencia al lado de sus padres en Normandía, a fines del siglo XIX. Cuando cree que encontró el amor en el hombre que la salva de un naufragio, sólo halla desamor y engaño. Basada en la novela de Guy de Maupassant.
“A un periodista extranjero que en Venecia decía a Astruc ‘Usted ha sobreestimado demasiado al público’, el director respondió: ‘Nunca se sobreestima demasiado al público’…” (François Truffaut).
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (86’; 16mm)

El placer
(Le plaisir; Francia, 1952)
Dirección: Max Ophüls.
Con Claude Dauphin, Gaby Morlay, Madeleine Renaud.
Tres historias sobre el placer basadas en sendos relatos de Guy de Maupassant. En la primera, un extraño hombre acude a un popular baile de máscaras en París y baila hasta caer extenuado. En la segunda historia, un famoso artista se enamora de Josephine, su bella modelo. En el último de los cuentos Madame Tellier, quien regenta un prostíbulo, es invitada por su hermano a la primera comunión de su hija.
"El placer --¡qué título admirable!-- es la más ophülsiana de las películas de Max Ophüls. Es el romanticismo alemán en una porcelana de Limoges. Y es también el impresionismo francés en un espejo de Viena" (Jean-Luc Godard).
A las 17 y 22 horas (97’; 35mm).

Domingo 11: El silencio del mar
(Le silence de la Mer; Francia,1949)
Dirección: Jean-Pierre Melville.
Con Howard Vernon, Nicole Stéphane, Jean-Marie Robain.
Corre el año 1941. En una pequeña localidad francesa ocupada por los alemanes, Werner Von Ebrennac, un oficial del ejército invasor, se hospeda en la casa de un lugareño que vive junto a su sobrino. Cada tarde el oficial se sienta junto a la hoguera y les habla de su tierra, su música y sus ideales sobre las relaciones entre Francia y Alemania. Pero después de una visita a París descubre lo que en realidad está ocurriendo.
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (88’; 16mm)

(Touchez pas au grisbi, 1953)
Dirección: Jacques Becker.
Con Jean Gabin, René Dary, Jeanne Moreau.
Un gangster ya cansado del oficio quiere retirarse después de un gran golpe, pero sus cómplices intentan quedarse con el botín. Todo un clásico del mejor cine negro francés, un film celebrado por Truffaut y Godard, que le valió la consagración a Gabin en el Festival de Venecia y fue la revelación de Jeanne Moreau, como su amante cocainómana.
A las 17 y 22 horas (94’; 16mm.)

Lunes 12 : No hay función

Martes 13: Cero en conducta
(Zéro de conduite: Jeunes diables au collège; Francia, 1933)
Dirección: Jean Vigo
Con Jean Dasté, Robert le Flon, Du Verron.
Jean Vigo, muerto a los 29 años con tan sólo cinco películas dirigidas, pone en pantalla sus recuerdos infantiles a través de la historia de cuatro jóvenes estudiantes franceses que, sujetos a un estricto régimen en su escuela, deciden rebelarse contra la institución. Este film fue originalmente prohibido en Francia por su presunto mensaje antipatriótico.
“Las obras maestras que versan sobre la infancia tanto en literatura como en cine pueden contarse con los dedos de una mano. Nos emocionan por partida doble, ya que a la emoción estética se añade una emoción biográfica, personal e íntima” (François Truffaut).

Las vacaciones del Sr. Hulot
(Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot; Francia, 1953)
Dirección: Jacques Tati.
Con Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Micheline Rolla.
En un complejo termal de la costa francesa los veraneantes se instalan con sus costumbres urbanas. Hasta que llega el Sr. Hulot al volante de su viejo vehículo y rompe la calma estival. Cada momento es una oportunidad para desbaratar involuntariamente las rígidas costumbres burguesas que los veraneantes han traído de la ciudad. Sólo los niños sabrán reconocer en él a un verdadero compañero de juegos.
“El humor de Tati es sumamente restringido. ¿No será porque se limita a propósito a al comicidad de observación y porque excluye todos los hallazgos cómicos que no pertenezcan al burlesco puro? (…) Las vacaciones del Sr. Hulot es un film que gusta o no gusta, pero no hay manera de formular reservas ante un film redondo, lógico, denso, ante ese bloque inatacable” (François Truffaut).
A las 14.30 y 19.30 horas (124’ total; 16mm.)

(Orphée; Francia, 1950)
Dirección: Jean Cocteau.
Con Jean Marais, François Périer, María Casares.
A partir de la leyenda de Orfeo, Jean Cocteau construye una historia sin tiempo, en la que el amor, la vida y la muerte conviven en un clima de trágica ensoñación.
“¿Habrá que demostrar a estas alturas la importancia de Jean Cocteau como cineasta? (…) Era un artista de los pies a la cabeza, de punta a cabo, y estaba dispuesto a prestar a los demás artistas un apoyo incondicional”. (François Truffaut).
A las 17 y 22 horas (95’; 35mm)

Five Must-See Films From the New York Film Festival (Village Voice)

By J. Hoberman

The 47th New York Film Festival (September 25 through October 11) features some things old, some things new, and some new things by directors who are really, really old. Opening night's Wild Grass is by Alain Resnais—an alum of the very first NYFF—who, at 87, is not even this year's senior filmmaker.

There are movies you'd expect to find at Lincoln Center, such as the last Cannes Film Festival's critical favorite (Wild Grass), Palm d'Or laureate (Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon), and most notorious film (Lars von Trier's Antichrist). Also, the Sundance Audience and Grand Prize winner, directed by Lee Daniels and contractually known as Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. And, perhaps, there are a few movies conspicuous by their absence, like the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man or Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are. Let the wild rumpus start . . .

It's all about the mix. I was in the kitchen, so I know. The other chefs on the NYFF selection committee were my colleagues Scott Foundas and Melissa Anderson, former Voice film editor Dennis Lim, and, of course, festival director Richard Peña. No lack of continuity: Returning to the fest are Marco Bellocchio (Vincere), Bong Joon-ho (Mother), Catherine Breillat (Bluebeard), Claire Denis (White Material), Bruno Dumont (Hadewijch), Harmony Korine (Trash Humpers), Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime), and, after 22 years, Malien director Souleymane Cissé (Min Ye . . . )—not to mention Resnais, 81-year-old class of '68er Jacques Rivette (Around a Small Mountain), 83-year-old '70s regular Andrzej Wajda (Sweet Rush), and the 100-plus but ageless Manoel de Oliveira (Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired Girl). Comrade Foundas offered to moderate a panel entitled "80 and Loving It." (For his take on all the old guys, see page 18.)

On the other hand, there are a dozen or more filmmakers who have never had movies in the NYFF, including the 25-year-old Philippino prodigy Raya Martin (Independencia), 32-year-old Maren Ade (Everyone Else), 34-year-old Corneliu Porumboiu (Police, Adjective), the notorious minimalizer Pedro Costa (Ne Change Rien), and Israeli Samuel Maoz, who brings his first film, Lebanon, which he made on the cusp of 50.

Lebanon, which won the Golden Lion a few weeks ago at Venice, was—along with Police, Adjective—the closest thing to a unanimous favorite for the amiably fractious committee. Yeah, right, I thought, when told it had been hyped as another Waltz With Bashir. Actually, Maoz's recollection of his wartime experience, set entirely inside a tank heading north on the first day of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, should be compared to No Exit, as directed by Sam Fuller. For this jaded committee member, the NYFF slate provided a number of other surprises (including the presence of Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story as the festival's first-ever pre–opening night opener). Here are five more unlikely-sounding items that proved to be unexpected pleasures. None, as of this writing, have distributors. Some are showing only once; all are movies I'm looking forward to seeing again.

Ghost Town A three-hour Chinese doc—filmed by a director so new that he isn't even listed on IMBD, over a period of months (years?) in a near-deserted village in the mountains of southwest China—arrives over the transom. Give Ghost Town 15 minutes, and you won't be able to shut it off—the assortment of religious evangelists, hardcore drunks, and abandoned children that Zhao Dayong finds living their lives provide a drama (and a look) as compelling as any in the festival. September 27

Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno Who cares about a lost movie by the half-forgotten "French Hitchcock"? But the title of Serge Bromberg's documentary, Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno, has a double meaning. A rigid, audience-manipulating control freak, Clouzot attempted to go all nouveau vague in the early '60s with a hallucinatory psychological thriller. Inferno's protagonist is pathologically jealous of his hot, young wife (Romy Schneider), but the real head case was the director—unable to finish the movie and, as both survivors and surviving footage indicate, driven half-mad in the attempt. (See page 22.) October 4

To Die Like a Man Fado-singing, pooch-pampering trannie grows old: Sounds like a yawn, but João Pedro Rodrigues's To Die Like a Man is a deep and fabulously sad fable, as well as an example of lyrical, playful, unpredictable filmmaking from this Portuguese festival star. (It's this year's I'm Gonna Explode.) September 30, October 1

Kanikosen While we're talking kabuki: Kanikosen, by the Japanese provo-punk who calls himself Sabu. If a manic manga-style, two-dimensional adaptation of a once-famous Japanese-Communist agitprop novel sounds like your cup of tea, trust me: It is. September 27, 28

Trash Humpers The fest doesn't lack for provocations, although von Trier's Antichrist strains, Breillat's Bluebeard is over-subtle, and Solondz's Life During Wartime waxes too philosophical. Bruno Dumont's humorless Hadewijch deserves to be rated PFC (pretty fucking crazy), but the wackiest transgression is Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers. I've always considered Korine an untalented poseur, but, as the poet said, a fool persists in his folly until he becomes wise. October 1, 2