Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dreamy Artisan Cinema

(Fernando Eimbcke, Mexico, 2008, 81 mins.)

"The director calls his style 'artisan cinema'; I just call it dreamy."
-- Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times

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On a sunny day in the Yucatán, a red Nissan whizzes by and then, after the screen fades to black, the sound of a crash rings out. The picture returns. For reasons unexplained, the teenaged driver has smashed the family car into a telegraph pole. Apparently unharmed, he sets out to seek help for his ailing automobile.

As in Eimbcke's 2004 debut, Duck Season, cinematographer Alexis Zabé uses long, static shots to capture this prologue. Moments later, while Juan (Diego Cataño) waits for suspicious old coot Don Heber (Héctor Herrera) to assist him, Zabé shoots their figures from Ozu's "tatami mat" level, rendering Heber's vertical figure headless.

Once convinced Juan isn't trying to rob him, Heber slurps down a bowl of cereal, recommends a distributor harness, and then promptly falls asleep in his backyard hammock, leaving Juan to continue combing the empty streets for assistance.

Finally he meets David (Juan Carlos Lara), a martial arts-obsessed mechanic who gives him a ride to the sedan on his bike. David offers to repair the damage for 300 pesos, which Juan doesn't have, so the quest for help turns into a quest for money.

Click here for part two.

Lake Tahoe continues at the Northwest Film Forum through 7/30 at 7 and 9pm. The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. between Pike and Pine on Capitol Hill. For more information, please click here or call 206-829-7863. Image from IONCINEMA.

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