Thursday, March 26, 2009


Even though we were supposed not to learn anything about Mexico I did. I learn about Mexican history, especially about Porfirio Diaz dictatorship and the mexican revolution. I think that was useful for the understanding of the movie as a lot of the main characters of that time were used as symbols and arqueotypes of Mexico in modern movies like the Wild bunch, The three amigos and Que viva Mexico.

I especially like movies were the Director's construction of Mexico and take on Mexican society was implicit like Battle in Heaven and Touch of evil. I was not surprised to see a lot of complexity and variety of themes and symbols about Mexican society because of the size and significance of the country specially for its relation with the united states. However I found that It was not always easy to see were the director of the movies were taking the audience by portraying such symbols like bandits, prostitutes and virginal women.

I also found interesting the progression in time of the representations of Mexico. It was obvious that in later movies like Traffic, El callejon, The three amigos and Battle in heaven the happy Mexican town and the rude revolutionaries are avoided. Nonetheless there is still a feel of the evolution of those characters in modern society. For example Tijuana in Trafic had a lot of the same characteristics as the town in the end of Que viva Mexico. The markets and the radical differences in social class and the candid women like Ana. Also I think that Marcos is a good example of the evolution of a farmer. He maintains the social status of his predecessor and he seems closer to nature and of course he is a macho man.

Machismo was a big theme in all movies. Mexico was definitely constructed as a machist state. It was also portrayed as a place with a rich culture but a lot of negative aspects like homophobia, corruption, extreme violence problems and socio-economic gaps. Indigenous people and culture was only explicitly mentioned in Que viva Mexico and even then I was briefly. I think that the lack of native people demonstrates that Mexico is mostly seen as a mixed placed and that indigenes culture is just part of the heritage and some traditions. In Agila o sol for example some of the dances alluded indigenous culture but it was clear that the actor had little indigenous blood in them.

I think it was interesting to see Mexican and non-Mexican representations of Mexico to be able to compare how the themes vary when the audiences are different and how Mexico is addressed from different point of views

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I do not agree with a lot of the comments made in the article "You are Alright, but ...". For example when the author says that the sex scene between the black american and Caroline dehumanizes him because his face is not shown. I think that the way the shot was done adds to the dramatic feel of the situation. To me this movie did a good job at portraying ethnicity without falling into an argument about racism and without falling into stereotypes. I think that Traffic was trying to be realistic. Truth is that there is inequality between people from different color and different cultural backgrounds in the United States and therefore It was more coherent with reality to put a white male in a high rank position in the American government than any other person even if this adds on the Hollywood portray of white male Americans. However, one think I do agree with Shaw is that white Americans were not portrayed as drug dealers only as drug victims. I did not like that because the movie should try to represent reality from every possible perspective and not just from economic hierarchy.

Another think I did not like about the article is the critique about the colors used to represent Mexico and USA. I think that any color used by the director would have been criticized and references would b young to argue for any meaning. I think that the director wanted the viewer to know were the scenes were happening without a context. For example in the last scene when Javier is watching the kids play baseball we know he is in Mexico because of the sepia-yellowish color of the image.

I like the movie because it tried to represent the complexity of the dynamics of drug trafficking and because it showed some powerful images like the car explosion, the death of Manolo and the cocaine-toy. The dialogues were also powerful, the speech of Ruiz about how the police is working for the drug dealers was really good at showing the flaws of the war on drugs. The last words of Roberto's speech and his conversation with the person in charge of the intelligence building in the border raised many questions about the real head of the cartel's and the point of a war on drugs. What I did not like was that the movie was not direct, it carried no specific message. I can see people going to the theater, liking the stories and getting overwhelmed for an hour but forgetting about it because it does not suggest anything. On one hand Ruiz and the two cops and Robert 's stories seems to suggest that the war on drugs is useless. On the other hand, Javier's story romanticizes the DEA and the police. From his story line one can conclude that more police like him is all that is needed to end drug trafficking.

My favorite part was the one played by Elen (Zeta-Jones) because it seem honest to me. I believe that a lot of people involved on drugs do it out of selfishness and indifference for justice but not because they are evil like Salazar or Flores.

About the representation of Mexico I think that some of the characters were depicted as modern versions of Pancho Villa or bandits. Salazar was just weird and creepy as well as Flores. Even Javier and Manolo had a weird unpleasant tone of voice and very slow dramatic pitch. I think the scene with the stolen car and the English-speaking couple was unnecessary and all it did was to make Tijuana look really bad. There were two scenes were Mexico/USA meta-converged. First when Robert is driving on the highway and the blue and the yellow mix to form green and another when Robert looks with the binoculars towards Mexico. I think that these two scenes put Mexico at the same level of USA is that both countries suffer from the consequences of the same problem but USA is more diligent and willing to fight the problem, at least in the movie.

Also the shots above Mexico city were a good way to show what I interpreted as the visit to a place that has nothing to do with the smuggling that happens in the border and that is not interested on it but is the center of attention because of the president and the administrative bodies that reside there. In other words in the movie Mexico was constructed as a country with divided interests .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Three amigos

Another movie set in Revolutionary Mexico. The 1920’s violent scenery, virginal and vulnerable women and chaotic macho society living in the leftovers of colonial times are all portrayed in the movie. Even though by 1970 most of the Mexican society shown in the movie was almost inexistent it seems like I represented the true Mexico to Americans and therefore the movie is set in the 1920’s instead of in modern Mexico.

The three Amigos parody Mexico and its ignorance as well as Americans and their materialistic world. It makes fun of actors who think of nothing but easy money and who can’t think beyond their perfect bubble world. I think of the movie as a comedy that makes fun of everything related to America and the Mexico-United States relations without developing a particular point or argument. The story line is original and absurd and that makes it funny. The Three amigos are like the three musketeers of Mexico except they are Americans. It is ironic that foreigners trying to be Mexican become heroes of Mexico instead of real Mexicans . It was funny how all the bandits at the cantina could speak perfect English. I was not sure when we (audience) were supposed to think that they were speaking Spanish and when English. The cantina is the place were most hilarious conversations and incidents happen. Also it is the place of all the homosocial interaction. For example when the women looking for help enters the bar everyone pauses and gives her unfriendly looks and one of the men almost rapes her. That scene is contrasted with the act of the Three amigos who dance very soft feminine music and moves at the cantina.

The dialogs are smar t funny .. like beer is like tequila ! or do you have anything bedsides Mexican food? or What are we doing in Mexico? I already got shot!. Also I noticed that the Germans were the bad guys which seems logical after half the world blame them for word war I and II. Like in many of the other movies we have seen women are shown as providers of pleasure for men and objects to fight over.

My final impression of the movie is that it did not mean to be revolutionary it was not ambitious like Touch of evil, Que viva Mexico, Los olvidados or The wild bunch. I really felt like the movie just wanted to entertain. For instance, all the atrocities committed by el Guapo in Santo Poco like the burning of the church and the kidnapping of Carmen? lost seriousness inmedialty after the three amigos entered the desert.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The wild bunch

Two things caught my attention in this movie, the apparent lack of values in everyone in the movie and the tension between the characters in most of the scenes. From the begging the wild bunch seemed to me as a group of American bandits with a code of honor that kept its members from betraying each other but with no ideological purposes."The wild bunch" was full of drunk, violent, macho men, who mistreated women and killed innocent people. However, it was no clear to me if they attacked the American town only to get gold or if there were other reasons.

The tension between the characters was present in almost every scene. The Americans who leaded the militia seem to be in conflict all the time. I think that the battle leader was involuntarily in charge of the military and therefore his opinions were ignored by the old-town-owners. I think he was actually like the "Wild bunch" but he was imprisoned and forced to serve the police and flip sides. He was also in conflict with his soldiers because they did not have the spirit of "the warrior" and only fought for money.

The wild bunch seemed to have a lot of internal problems as well. Its members kept arguing all the time. Obviously they also had a problem with the General Mapache who seem stupid and weak to them. Finally, the General Mapache and the revolucionarios had their own war going on.

The end of the movie changed my mind about the lack of morals of the wild bunch. I thought that the wild bunch valued friendship highly and that is why they killed general Mapache. I think that the Wild bunch saw the spirit of the warriors on Angel and the revolutionaries hence when they saw little posibility to escape gloriously and their lives sourounded by cheap prostitutes and solitude they did not mind to die for Angel's cause.

I also found interesting the theme of prostitution. I think prostitutes have appeared in every movie we have seen and I think that desire and sex work are an essential aspect of mexican culture and mexican representations. I thought that mexican women survived best being prostitutes and even when they weren't getting paid they were trading their body for mercy, acceptance and protection.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Response to Lauren's

I think that the purpose of the story teller was to humanize the bad cop (Hank). She seemed to be her lover or concubine. I think that the director did not want us to see Hank just as an evil being but as a human.
I thought that the begging was strange specially because of the attitude of the wife towards the bandits that were following her. She was so fake and ridiculous demanding towards them. However, as u said I did focus my attention on Susan and Vargas after the incident with the bandits and I forgot about the car accident

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Touch of evil

I found the narrative very interesting. I liked how the director divided our attention between what was going on with uncle Joe Grandi and with Quinlan to mislead us and make us wonder about the fate of Susan. I thought that the bad cop versus the good cop story must have been original at the time ( I am thinking about the movie with Al Pacino and Robert Deniro, same team and still interesting). I also liked the female characters and how they fit into the concept of mexicanidad and of the femme fatale of the noir cinema.

Brothels, prostitution and cabarets were an important themes in the plot even though they were not the main focus of the movie.

After reading the article I realized a lot of details about the characters that I did not find clear from the movie like the fact that Susan and Miguel were in their honey moon, the exact job of Vargas and his status in the United States. I also found the analysis very interesting. I did not notice that Vargas' skin tone was darkened for the movie. He proposes that the director, Welles, did this unconsciously to discuss about racial issues in the border and I agree with this since I think that Miguel represented the Mexican state and the desire of Mexicans to appear reliable and knowledgeable to Americans.

Also I agree with the author of the article on that the movie attempts to criticize the State of emergency and the "Wet back operation" using visual metaphors for the injustices and disadvantages to America of such political agenda. The most revealing evidence of such argument is the final scene were Hank floats in the river after Vargas made him confess by taking advantage of his powers and declaring an "state of emergency" that allows him to behave outside the law. The transformation of the wife and what happen to her is also a powerful example of the consequences of stopping obeying the law to reestablish it.

I also like the argument made by the author about how Mexicans are members of the American society which can not been included in it because America must lack what immigrants have to offer. I thought it was a philosophical idea suitable to explain the logic behind many of the deportation operation done in the United stated in the 20th centuries. Additionally, this ideas serve as a good background and historical context for the motivation in making touch of evil.

I wonder if the title was selected to remind the audience that the film is noir. Since film noir often has a hero which has poor moral values, I interpreted Touch of evil as the bad attitude and poor work ethic of Miguel by the end of the movie. I think that making critiques to American politics less obvious was important for the director (He has issues with the government) and therefore having a title that emphasized the non-political content of the film was important for the director as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hudson-Span404 response

From what I understood from the presenter the movie was sponsored and administered by Americans therefore I doubt that tit was aimed to soviet audiences or that it intended to provoke communist pride. In fact, I think that the movie ended up in a museum in New York.

I liked the way the movie was divided in different sections, however the last part (in the cactus plantation) took over the first part-at least for me- because of the story that was told about the abused fiance. i would have liked the movie better had the director kept the documentary like style

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Que viva Mexico

Los rituales al rededor de la muerte incluyendo el funeral del fallecido fueron las escenas que envolvieron todos los demas temas de la pelicula y por esto creo el director y los productores representan mexico como una sociedad donde la muerte es parte escensial de la cultura.

En Sandunga la vida indigena post-colonial es representada y contrastada con la vida de los indigenas durante la epoca precolombina. Este primer clip se desarrolla al rededor de un matrimoio. Creo que esta parte simboliza la vida y el inicio de la familia.

Fiesta, Maguey estan mas relacionadas con el tema de la muerte. En fiesta se representa la muerte de Jesus y el sufrimiento religioso de los mexicanos. La religion es presentada como fuente de temor y de sacrificio pero tambien de profunda devocion. En esta parte tambien se muestra la fiesta brava que basicamente es el asecinato de un toro. Aqui la muerte produce emocion y adrenalina en los personajes de la pelicula. Maguey tambien explora el tema de la muerte pero enta vez es de hombres y del honor.

Soldadura tambien tenio como objeto explorar la muerte pero esta vez durante la guerra y no como una situacion aislada pero comun en la sociedad.

Otros temas adicionaless tambien son explorados en la pelicula como la opresion de la clase campesina por los latifundistas, el meztizaje cultural entre europa y america y la conexion entre los campesinos e indigenas con la tierra. Este ultimo tema se desarrolla principalmente en maguey, donde la planta sirve de refugio, fuente de entretencion y trabajo y espectador de la lucha entre clases y la muerte.

Me parecio que esta pelicula combina muy bien el paisaje con la cultura y toca temas escenciales en la idosincracia mexicana, sin embargo me parece que el ritmo y el sentimiento transmitido en las primeras dos partes de eploracion y adentramiento en mexico se pierde en maguey porque hay demasiado enfoque en la historia de un solo individuo y la pelico parece tener una narrativa.

En cuanto al a parte tecnica me gusto cuando las personas eran sobrepuestas con objetos porque la relacion entre el espacio construido por el hombre (edificios, esculturas, plantas, canous) y la cultura era obvio y expresivo. Tambien me gustaron los acercamientos a los rostros de las personas y la ambientacion musical porque de algun modo me transportaban a Mexico. No obstante, la mayoria de las representaciones de las personas en la pelicula son cliches modernos que no expressan la identidad mexicana pero ciertos habitos que se mantienen en la cultura para exportar o unir a la nacion pero que no son relevantes en la realidad de la misma.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Response to Mario Fas

I think that Marcos killed Ana for no reason and that is the point of the movie. I think he was in so much despair and uneasiness that he let all the repressed feeling one can have to control him. All his fears and disappointments became actions. I don't think he loved her. Also I thought that Marco's wife was interesting. We did not get to know her very well but I think she was far from linear. she had so much understanding of her situation that she was able to accept the role Marcos wanted to give her (furniture in the house) and she dealt with it.

Battle in Heaven

This is by far my favorite movie until now. I like the plot and I like the performances of all the characters. The movie reminded me of Repulsion by Polanski. It really captured the feeling of the characters even though the characters themselves did not show a lot of expression or physical emotions. I liked the contrast between the fast paced of the city and the stillness of Ana and Marco. The contrast brightened the despair of the main characters because it put them in a context at the same time as it alienated them from Mexico city.
The relationship between sound and picture was also important in the film. There were a lot extraneous sounds in the scenes like the classic music at the gas station, the clocks at the house and the metro station and the music in the country side. The music help us to focus in the people more and less in the surroundings.

I found interesting how the director presented Mexico city. although the director told the interviewer that the film was not political a lot of elements were a lot about Mexico and not just about an x city. The flag, the close captions of religious images, the city shots, the road trip towards Ana's house, the guy wearing the mexico jacket at the airport, the march of the pilgrins. I agree that the film is about two people but it happens that those people are Mexican and they are very affected by the dynamics of their city. Truth is though that the characters seem free to make their own decisions. they did't seem so limited by their socioeconomic status like in Los olvidados or El callejon de los milagros.

About the narretive, The marriage was interesting because of the hate-love interactions but also it was genuine and it felt honest to me. Also, women had very different roles in this movies than in any other film we have seen. All females appeared strong and confident.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Response to Marianne B

I also really liked the way the story was told. I almost think that the breaking of the chronology and the naming of the parts has become a very Mexican feature I have seen it on Amores perros and Amarte duele. Back in track, I agree on what you said about all the stories becoming one and all the characters affecting each others life, however I don't think that they are victims of each other. I think that they just made the choices they thought or felt were right for them. As for Alma I think that she wanted to do something with her life and she saw in Jose Luis the only door towards a different lifestyle but not because she pitied herself but because she wanted a change.

De virgen a prostituta

Lo que me parecio mas interesante de la pelicula fue la transformacion de Alma. Al principio ella era el personaje mas virginal. Ella representaba pureza e inocencia y al final de la historia ella es una prostituta, lo cual la convierte en su propia antitesis. Aunque Alma pierde su virginidad en su nuevo trabajo parece que no ha perdido su inocencia y vulnerabilidad. Ella sigue siendo ingenua y pasiva, siempre esperando que la vida o "el destino" actuen por ella.
Algo que no causo perplejidad fue la logica detras de la decision de Alma y por eso es que me parece interesante su conversion. Pienso que talvez Alma vio en Jose Luis una oportunidad para tomar las riendas de su vida y dejar de esperar por un esposo pero tambien alma pudo haberse dejado deslumbrar por el dinero y las promesas materiales que le hizo Jose Luis o que quiza la curiosidad por el sexo la haya conducido hacia un estilo de vida del que no puso escaparse.

Maru, la amiga de Alma tambien me llamo la atencion porque ella representa a la mujer facil sin embargo ella no se involucra con el protibulo, lo cual es inesperado.

En terminos mas generales, me gusto la forma en que la pelicula se desarrolla porque no hay ninguna critica explicita de la sociedad Mexicana pero al mismo tiempo muestra los problemas que ciertos aspectos de esta causan a nivel social. La pelicula podria pertenecer completamente a la ficcion si no tuviera tantos aspectos en comun con Mexico como la falta de oportunidades, la homophobia, el machismo, la supersticion y privacidad colectiva. La discriminacion basada en la preferencias sexuales fue la discusion mas importante para mi en la pelicula porque ese episodio afecto a todos los habitantes del callejon y fue mostrado de forma real sin mostrar extremos no situaciones improbable con las cuales es dificil relacionarse.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Response to Devin

I agree about the colors and the vigorosity of the film. I also want to comment that I did not quite understood the role of the busty women. She was not a prostitute, she seemed more like a overly liberal (libertine) women who wanted to have fun. She did not seem to fit into any stereotype of Mexican culture and she left the film without explanation. She did not harm or was harmed. I was very intrigued by this character.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mecanica Nacional y los 1001 temas

Mecanica Nacional is to me a very clear example of a tragic-comedy. It has a linear narrative with a lot of funny situations and extravagant characters and at the same time, its turning point is a sad and tragic event: The death of the grand mother Dona Lola.

The humor in the movie is mostly synical. The characters make fun of Mexico, mexicans and Mexico-USA politics while they inpersonate the sterotypes they are making fun of. For example, when all Euebio's friends were expalining to Gregorio why it was good to cheat they ended up going around in circles and laughing about themselves and about how absurd there arguments were. It was not clear to me whether the director was making a critique of Mexican society or if he was just making a commentary on the multiple layers, contradiccions, and contrasts embedded in the culure and social politics of Mexico.

There were many social issues mentioned in the movie but none of them were fully developed. Some of them were: Machism, violence against women, traffic, social indifference, sensationalism and lack of self control. Some topics were more prevalent than others but none seemed to bother any of the characthers. It almost appeared to me that the characters needed to have all the defects they had to be funny and for the movie to make sense. I think that if any critisism was intended by the director it had to do more with the audience's reaction than with the characters themselves. If the audience could identify itself or its neighboors in the movie, then the audience would be accepting the director's portray of mexico and therefore the director would be attacking the audience. Some times we can only identify our own defects when they are reflected in other people and I think that the director makes it obvious that some of the behaviour of the characters was wrong.

Some of the scenes in the movie are also very foreign to the narrative and therefore I would suggest that they are there to point out that some sort of social commentary is trying to be made. I am specifically reffering to the couple wearing white. They first appear very clean and tidy and slowly become very dirty as the movie progresses. I would say that the couple is trying to show what is happing in the movie and specially how the behacivour of the characters has spoilt the trip which was supposed to be fun. Another of these foreign scenes are the takes of the traffic vs the race which can have a methaphorical meaning of the crowded city life of the family vs the fun and spontaneity of the country side.

One last thing! The movie also presents some positive aspects of mexican culture . Mexican people were shown as solidary, simple, family oriented individuals with a big sense of humor and hospitality.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

span 404

I can't see my posts on the course blog and I am getting really frustrated :(

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Los olvidados

Today was the second time I watched the film and I was surprised that I did not feel as sad as I did the first time. I remember being very moved by the hatred and anger that the children felt in the movie and also very uncomfortable with the blind beggar character because of the way he rejected the past of time and the changes of social dynamics. I didn’t feel anything of that this time. I am actually worried of being so far removed from the reality shown in the movie that I can not feel for the community represented in the movie anymore. I think that they have become “those people” and
I have just become an audience.

My reason for telling my feelings with respect to the movie is to point out that “Los olvidados”, whether a documentary or not, does pretend to raise awareness about what is going on in the slums of Mexico city and therefore he has an specific audience in mind. Such audience are those who do not live in poor neighborhoods or who don’t experience the lost of a son in a gang fight. “Los olvidados” does a good job documenting various issues in expanding cities like marginalization of peripheral areas, delinquency, youth crime and family violence. The story line is so dramatic and intense that it makes the actual facts taken from reality even more shocking. Luis Bunuel adds a lot of dramatic elements to the movie like close captions to the chickens, dreams, coincidences and symbols that add to the intensity of the emotions that the characters deal with and therefore allow the view to get to know them.

In contrast to Aguila o Sol, the orphans of this movie are not as lucky and they end up being killed or abandoned. The women of both films are both supportive instead of protagonist but in “Los olvidados” women are shown as vulnerable and blameful instead of ideal beings.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aguila o Sol

La pelicula Aguila o Sol fue estrenada en el ano de 1937, el cual pertence a la llamada edad de oro del cine Mexicano. Algunos elementos mencionadoes por Noble sobre el cine mexicano de esta epoca se evidencian en la pelicula. Por ejemplo, la importancia simbolica de las mujeres, la apelacion a la identidad mexicana y las diferencias sociales entre los mexicanos.

Adriana representa la mujer perfecta. Ellas es buena, bonita y fiel a sus sentimientos. Como discutimos en clase ella mantiene el orden. Ademas ella es el centro de atencion en la pelicula por su carisma y su talento. Es interesante que muchas de las canciones revelan diferentes aspectos de mexico, hay una cancion folklorica, una mas tropical (el cabaret), hay tango, hay bolero y hay un poco de flamenco. Me parece que la condicion humilde de los protagonistas forma parte del intento del director por acercarse a la audiencia mexicana de clase media.

En general me parece que el objetivo principal de esta pelicula es entretener y que lo mas importante son los segmentos donde se presenta la musica, el baile y el teatro. Me parece interesante que la pelicula trate de representar algo que podria verse individualmente como los skits de los dos amigos. Lei un poco en internet acerca del fil y encontre que aguila o sol traduce al ingles "tails or heads" y que los apellidos de Polito y Carmelo eran Sol y Aguila respectivamente. Me parecio interesante porque solo en el sueno vi la exclusion que la particula o implica, entre los dos amigos. Siempre estuvieron juntos y asi permanecioron hasta el fin de la pelicula.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Who is Carolina?

Hi, My name is Carolina. I am a third year Biochemistry major. I am an international student from Colombia. I am really not sure about what I want to do with my life becuase I really like science and literature and I have not been able to find a way to do both. I am really exited about this course and I hope to learn something.