EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LOS MUERTOS (director/writer: Lisandro Alonso; cinematographer: Cobi Migliora; editors: Lisandro Alonso/Ezequiel Borovinsky; music: Flor Maleva; cast: Argentino Vargas (Vargas), Francisco Dornez (Dornez); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Lisandro Alonso/Ilse Hughan/Marianne Slot; Facets Video; 2004-Argentina-in Spanish with English subtitles)|
hypnotic journey into the Argentine jungle."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This plotless minimalist road film by Argentina writer-director Lisandro Alonso ("Freedom") is about an hypnotic journey into the Argentine jungle. The title translates as "The Dead."
After a long stay in prison,
for killing his two younger brothers, the taciturn middle-aged Vargas (Argentino Vargas) is released from prison and returns to the remote jungle he
lived before to see his daughter. Vargas buys candy and a blouse for
his daughter and brings with him a letter he promised to deliver to the
daughter of a fellow inmate (Francisco
Dornez), whose daughter Maria
lives in a nearby jungle village. She provides Vargas with a rowboat so
he can continue on upstream in the jungle river to see his estranged
daughter Olga. On the way, he
spots a goat along the shore and slaughters it professionally like a
butcher with his machete (which becomes quite a scene for animal rights
advocates to grasp, as it leaves the argument out there if such
brutality with a real animal was necessary to be filmed or is it just a
matter of letting things slide in favor of 'art for art's sake').
Alonso creates a dreamlike
feel to the lush exotic primitive setting, as his mysterious
protagonist (not reflecting about his life or the crime or his present
thoughts) paddles his way into an isolated world where he feels
comfortable but where the typical urban viewer would most likely feel
ill at ease. It ends on an ambiguous note, that leaves this journey
into a dark paradise open to individual interpretation of whether it's
meant to be viewed as a positive reality pic about throwing off the
cloaks of civilization to return to live as a primitive in nature or
meant to condemn that move for the violence that goes with it. This
non-linear told civilization vs. back to nature movement theme pic is
open to ridicule by those who couldn't get with the film's seductive
drift and maybe call it out as merely a work of arty pretense.
me it works as an example
of pure cinema. It kept my attention throughout despite its slow pace,
lack of action and a lack of intellectual analysis. My feeling was that
the less you know about it, the more absorbing it is when seen fresh;
especially if you let it surprise and tease you with its verdant trip
into the Heart of Darkness (into one's primal roots).
REVIEWED ON 1/6/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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