Friday, July 07, 2006

Recent movies


A Mexican production that was an academy Award nominee, a Golden Globe nominee is 2001, and a winner of the Cannes festival for Best Feature Film. I knew none of the players, although I recognized two. If you saw Paul Haggis stunning CRASH, you’ll know about this film, an intertwining of several characters, a punk who fights his dog, an old anarchist who saves a Rottweiler, and a woman whose dog is lost under the floor of her apartment. It’s a long, intense rewarding film. It’s unflinching examination of the lives of several inhabitants of Mexico City is emotionally wrenching and unsparing of the dogs and the people. Difficult to watch but very worthwhile.


A Golden Globe winner as Best Foreign Film. In Rio de Janerio, there are simpler, ordinary and necessary services readily available to travelers who arrive at the central train station. One of them is letter writing. For a small fee Dona will write a letter for you. For a largely unlettered population, this service can be vital. Dona is a cynical, lonely ex-teacher and she doesn’t always mail the letters, particularly if she somehow knows the sender or the potential receiver would be better off with out the written connection.

She encounters a boy of nine and witnesses the death of his mother under a bus. With reluctance and over a long time, she decides to leave Rio and escort the boy to his father’s town. It is a difficult journey and the film really explores the places the bus takes the travelers and the growing bond between the boy and the ex-teacher. A fine, if predictable production.

THE THREE BURIALS of Melquiades Estrada

Tommy Lee Jones is all over this one. He directed and stars. I was impressed that nearly all the time you forgot it was Jones you were watching. His movements, his look and his voice all seemed to belong to another person. An excellent modern western that looks at the Border Patrol, affection between two men, and the sense of loyalty and friendship that can go beyond normal relationships.

I have just finished reading 1491, by Charles C. Mann. If you want a disturbing look at the reality of the Western Hemisphere, particularly South America, before Columbus and the other Europeans rode in, here it is. Engagingly written, extensively researched, this one will raise all kinds of questions about the accuracy of what we were taught in history classes.

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