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.