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Crónicas-Movie Review 02/24/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, Cartagena Film Festival, Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival, Sebastián Cordero, South American/Spanish language film, Sundance Film Festival, Suspense, Thriller.
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Crónicas (South American/Spanish/English) 2004
Chronicles
Inspired by true events

Written and directed by Sebastián Cordero
Starring John Leguizamo, Damián Alcazár, Leonor Watling, and José Mariá Yazpik

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Silver Ariel Award, Best Actor (Alcazár); NOMINATED, Silver Ariel, Best Direction; Best Editing; Best Screenplay; Best Sound, Ariel Awards, Mexico
WINNER, Golden India Catalina, Best Actor (Alcazár); NOMINATED, Best Film (Cordero), Cartagena Film Festival
WINNER, Mayahuel Award, Best Actor (Alcazár); Best Film and Best Screenplay (Cordero), Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival
NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema-Dramatic (Cordero), Sundance Film Festival

Popular television journalist Manolo Bonilla (Leguizamo) brings his producer (Watling) and cameraman (Yazpik) from Miami to Ecuador in search of a sensationalistic story about the child serial killer and rapist known as “The Monster of Babahoyo.” In a small town, the news team gets caught up in the aftermath of an accidental death of a child and the consequent attempted lynching of Vinicio (Alcazár), the man who caused it.

By only showing hints of what “The Monster” has done, the director keeps the horror level tolerable and the suspense level high. The several scenes between the single-minded, ambitious Manolo and the manipulative, emotional Vinicio escalate and lead to a horrible and unexpected ending. Although Alcazár seems to have won the most honors (see above), the talented Leguizamo also deserves mention. Apparently this was the first film in which he spoke Spanish dialogue, something he did not feel comfortable doing. It didn’t show.

108 min. Rated R for violence, sexuality and language.

 

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The Wind Journeys-Movie Review *** 02/17/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bogota Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Cartagena Film Festival, Emotional Drama, Film Movement, Movies, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, South American/Spanish language film.
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The Wind Journeys (South American/Spanish) 2009 ***
Los viajes del viento

WINNER, Golden Precolombian Circle, Best Colombian Film; Best Director (Guerra), Bogota Film Festival
WINNER, Award of the City of Rome (Guerra), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Colombian Cinema Award, Best Director (Guerra); Best Film; WINNER, Golden India Catalina, Best Colombian Film, Cartagena Film Festival
WINNER, Best Spanish Language Film, Santa Barbara International Film Festival

From Film Movement
Written and directed by Ciro Guerra
Starring Marciano Martinez

Ignacio (Martinez) feels cursed to spend his life as a wandering troubadour because he thinks that the accordion he plays is controlled by the devil. When he makes a last journey to return the instrument to his elderly teacher, he is followed by Fermin, a young man who envies the life Ignacio leads. The pair must travel a great distance, through beautifully sweeping and varying landscapes. Their stops at villages along the way provide opportunities for music and glimpses into other traditions of the region.

Ignacio is played by Marciano Martinez, composer of hit songs in the vallenato tradition. Vallenato is “born of the valley” folk music from the Caribbean region of Colombia. The spirited and emotional music originated as a means for farmers to deliver the news of the valley in song form.

Highly recommended.

Here’s a taste of Martinez’s music.

117 min. Not rated.

 

Alamar-Movie Review *** 11/25/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cartagena Film Festival, Film Movement, FIPRESCI Award, Highly recommended, Mexican/Spanish language film, Movies, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Toulouse Latin America Film Festival.
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Alamar (Mexico) 2009 ***
To the Sea

WINNER, Grand Jury Prize, Ibero-American Competition (González-Rubio), Miami Film Festival
WINNER, Feature Film Competition Award; Audience Award, Morelia International Film Festival
WINNER, Tiger Award (González-Rubio), Rotterdam International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (González-Rubio), Toulouse Latin America Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best First Work (González-Rubio); Best New Actor (Natan Palombini); Best Sound, Silver Ariel Awards, Mexico
NOMINATED, Golden India Catalina, Best Film, Cartegena Film Festival

From Film Movement

Directed by Pedro González-Rubio
Starring Jorge Machado, Natan Machado Palombini, Nestor Marin Matraca, and Roberta Palombini

This is one of the loveliest and most touching films I’ve seen in a while. Five-year-old Natan (Palombini) leaves his Italian mother to visit with his father Jorge (Machado) in Mexico. They travel by sea to the Chinchorro Reef off the Mexican coast where Jorge helps Natan become familiar with his Mayan heritage. Jorge’s father is a fisherman and the growing bond between the three generations is beautiful to see.

And the reefs, it goes without saying, are absolutely stunning. For more information about this protected area, click here.

Highly recommended.

73 min. Not rated. Suitable for older children.

Also highly recommended is the short film, No Corras Tantos (Take it Easy) that is on the same DVD. It is a five minute animation that uses sand as the medium. The music and lyrics are exceptional as well. I watched it once for the animation alone and the second time to read the lyrics (it was too hard to do both the first time around).