Saturday, October 11, 2014

El Estudiante, political movie (learning from Argentina)




Artemisia Gentileschi
Susanna e i vecchioni (1610)
Image from Julian Bell's
Mirror of the World

There is a Brazilian "political" movie I'm unable to talk about. I saw it much later than it came out, and just like Os Famosos e os Duendes da Morte, it touches me as only a few other Brazilian movies really do: Se Nada Mais Der Certo (José Eduardo Belmonte, 2009). It is far away from being perfect, but it is touching and convincing. 
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"... toute l'histoire de la politique européenne au moins, et depuis Marx au moins, serait celle d'une guerre impitoyable entre des camps solidaires et également terrorisés par le fantôme, le fantôme de le autre et son propre fantôme comme fantôme de l'autre."
"... tous ces opposants de l'ombre ont beau savoir que l'Europe est en train de trembler devant certain fantôme, celui qui désigne le Manifeste dès son premier nom, ils complotent aussi contre une armée de spectres, contre la spectralité même, et ils pensant tous, sans doute, que c'est de bonne guerre... le noeud des complicités et des antagonismes entre Marx, Engels, Feuerbach, Stirner, Hess, Bauer, etc." 
Jacques Derrida, Spectres de Marx

As you can see what happened in the Soviet Union, they wanted to change and have socialism. They could not. Karl Marx was somewhat aware of this. He said there is such a thing as false consciousness. This show, which is concealed, is false consciousness.
David Bohm (interview)

Aos olhos deles, eu era apenas um peão fazendo seu dever.
Gerald Thomas, Entre Duas Fileiras

The strength of a "political" movie such as El Estudiante (2011, by Santiago Mitre) is the determination with which it follows the internal contradictions of its material as they can be handled in its specific "code" (cinema has its own way to conjure up reality). The plot is unraveled by unexpected turns. It is not demagogical and confronts us with puzzles: how people who supposedly are simply exploited somewhat contribute to their own situation, and above all how people who intend to help are generally unconsciously entangled in the labyrinths of their own selfishness. Argentina is the country of sophisticated directors such as Marcelo Piñeyro, Carlos Sorin, Pablo Trapero, Anahí Berneri and Lucrecia Martel.
In Brazil, the best examples are documentaries. Eduardo Coutinho and João Moreira Salles are accomplished documentary directors. Garapa (2005), by José Padilha, deals with its material in a way which is also interesting (the case of Gabriel Mascaro is more peculiar). In fiction, the best results were attained by Anna Muylaert: Mae só há uma (2016) hasn't got so much attention as Que horas ela volta (2015), but it is just as good. The plot seems implausible (the idea of going back home), but it is actually a metaphor for a very complex and troubled situation. Muylaert works with the actors in a way that is the most convincing. The direction is very honest and unconceited. I wasn't much convinced by Cleber Mendonça Filho's O Som ao Redor (2012), but Aquarius (2016) is excellent. And O Céu de Suely (2006), by Karim Aïnouz, is remarkable. 
The Mexican director Amat Escalante is also ingenious. His Los Bastardos (2008) is astounding.
Some intentionally political movies are otherwise just pseudo-engagé movies: they are unable to engage truly with their own material, and merely submit the material to an external code (such as ordinary ideas and not necessarily false clichés but nonetheless clichés about "human exploitation"). In my opinion the most frightening examples are Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener and Blindness (2008, **see my critical review), or José Campanella's El Secreto de sus ojos (2009). Besides being "intentionally political," these movies are somewhat "intentionally artistic." In Brazil there are many movies that would fall under such a category. Lavoura Arcaica (Luiz Fernando Carvalho, 2001) is perhaps the worst case scenario. It is not exactly political, but "epic." And it is just "intentionally artistic" (mannered and pious) as the language of Raduan Nassar’s original book was affected and bookish. It won about 50th prizes in festivals, but not exactly in Berlin or Cannes. ***Walter Salles, on the other hand, was redeemed by Dark Water (2005)—an unabashed "genre" movie, in which all his immemorial & carefully pampered clichés finally mount up to a truly terrifying degree! Without irony, I actually consider it to be his best movie ever (homespun philosophy transfigured). 
****I'm not considering Glauber Rocha's movies here, because they are very unequal and—except for Barravento and Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol—each one difficult to evaluate as a whole. But Glauber Rocha was a visionary artist whose works have unparalleled value (see here). And Cinema Novo has other interesting names such as Ruy Guerra, Leon Hirszman, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, and Paulo César Saraceni. There is also Cinema "Marginal"—if not political, apocalyptical

List of other ingenious "political" movies (under construction & not to be found on amazing #IMDbitches' site, which certainly has the same kind of shortcomings as Wikipedia):
- Napszállta (László Nemes, 2018); 
- Everybody Knows (Asghar Farhadi, 2018);
- Gräns (Ali Abbasi, 2018);
- Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas, 2018);
- Lazzaro Felice (Alice Rohrwacher, 2018);
- No Date, No Sign (Vahid Jalilvand, 2018);
- Museo (Alonso Ruizpalacios, 2018);
- Wieza. Jasny dzien (Jagoda Szelc, 2017);
- Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017);
- The Party (Sally Potter, 2017);
- Jupiter holdja (Kornél Mundruczó, 2017);
- La Cordillera (Santiago Mitre, 2017);
- Los Perros (Marcela Said, 2017);
- Nelyubov (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017);
- War Machine (David Michôd, 2017);
- The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017);
- Geumul (Ki-Duk Kim, 2016);
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016);
- Zjednoczone stany milosci (Tomasz Wasilewski, 2016);
- I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016);
- Deep Web (Alex Winter, 2015);
- Boi Neon (Gabriel Mascaro, 2015);
- Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2015);
- Saul fia (László Nemes, 2015);
- Tharlo (Pema Tseden, 2015);
- The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015);
- Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014);
- Aire Libre (Anahí Berneri, 2014);
- Um Sonho Intenso (José Mariani, 2014);
- Leviatan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014);
- Simindis kundzuli (George Ovashvili, 2014);
- Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers, 2013)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (Scorsese, 2013);
- Epizoda u zivotu beraca zeljeza (Danis Tanovic, 2013);
- Tian zhu ding (Zhangke Jia, 2013);
- Heli (Amat Escalante, 2013);
- Pelo Malo (Mariana Rondón, 2013);
- Après mai (Olivier Assayas, 2012);
- Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012);
- The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012);
- Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, 2012);
- Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012);
- Les Adieux à la Reine (Benoît Jacquot, 2012);
- The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd, 2012);
- Le Capital (Costa-Gravas, 2012);
- A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011);
- Elena (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2011);
- This is not a Film (Jafar Panahi, 2011);
- A torinói ló (Béla Tarr, 2011);
- Concerto de Violino (Luciano Vidigal, 2010);
- Por tu culpa (Anahí Berneri, 2010);
- Carancho (Pablo Trapero, 2010);
- Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010);
- Green Zone (Paul Greengrass, 2010);
- Submarino (Thomas Vinterberg, 2010);
- Mammuth (Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern, 2010);
- Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz, 2009);
- Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009);
- Das weiße Band (Michael Haneke, 2009);
- Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008);
- Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2008);
- Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (Uli Edel, 2008);
- Louise-Michel (Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern, 2008);
- Gomorra (Matteo Garrone, 2008);
- Los Bastardos (Amat Escalante, 2008);
- La mujer sin cabeza (Lucrecia Martel, 2008);
- Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2008);
- Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, 2007);
- Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007);
- No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007);
- There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007);
- Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007);
- The Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom; Mat Whitecross, 2006);
- The Last King of Scotland (Kevin McDonald, 2006);
- A Fost Sau N-A Fost? (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006);
- Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005);
- Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005);
- Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005);
- A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005);
- Solnste (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005);
- Sangre (Amat Escalante, 2005);
- El método (Marcelo Piñeyro, 2005);
- Entreatos (João Moreira Salles, 2004);
- Der Untergang (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004);
- Aaltra (Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern, 2004);
- Los Muertos (Lisandro Alonso, 2004);
- Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003);
- Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003);
- Le Temps du Loup (Michael Haneke, 2003);
- Buongiorno, Nuote (Marco Bellocchio, 2003);
- Cidade de Deus (Fernando Meirelles, 2002);
- Edifício Master (Eduardo Coutinho, 2002);
- Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass, 2002);
- Historias Mínimas (Carlos Sorin, 2002);
- La Ciénaga (Lucrécia Martel, 2001);
- La Libertad (Lisandro Alonso, 2001);
- Telets (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2001);
- Taking Sides (Stván Szabó, 2001);
- Suchwiin bulmyeong (Ki-Duk Kim, 2001);
- Plata Quemada (Marcelo Piñeyro, 2000);
- Moloch (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1999);
- Goya (Carlos Saura, 1999);
- Ghost Dog (Jim Jarmush, 1999);
- Notícias de uma guerra particular (Katia Lund e João Moreira Salles, 1998-99);
- Idioterne (Lars von Trier, 1998);
- Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1998);
- Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997);
- Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994);
- Lektionen in Finsternis (Werner Herzog, 1992);
- The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992);
- Europa (Lars von Trier, 1991);
Sonata dlya Gitlera (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1989);
- Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987); 
- La Película del Rey (Carlos Sorin, 1986); 
- Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986); 
- Kiss of the Spider Woman (Héctor Babenco, 1985);
- Cabra Marcado para Morrer (Eduardo Coutinho, 1984);
- Mephisto (István Szabó, 1981);
- Pixote (Hector Babenco, 1981); 
- Die Dritte Generation (Fassbinder, 1979);
- Mamá cumple 100 años (Carlos Saura, 1979);  
- La Vocation Suspendue (Raul Ruiz, 1978); 
- Das Schlangenei (Ingmar Bergman, 1977);
- Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1977);
- Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977);
- Cria Cuervos (Carlos Saura, 1976);
- Mr Klein (Joseph Losey, 1976);
- Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Pasolini, 1975);
- Lacombe Lucien (Louis Malle, 1974);
- Il Portieri di Notte (Liliana Cavani, 1974);
- Ana y los Lobos (Carlos Saura, 1973);
- The Assassination of Trotsky (Joseph Losey, 1972);
- A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971);
- Porcile (Pasolini, 1969);
- British Sounds (Godard, 1969);
- Sympathy for the Devil (Godard, 1968);
- Teorema (Pasolini, 1968);
- Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967);
- Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964);
- Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (Glauber Rocha, 1964);
- Vidas Secas (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1963);
- Barravento (Glauber Rocha, 1962);
- Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959);
- Un condamné à mort s'est échappé (Robert Bresson, 1956);
- Journal d'un curé de campagne (Robert Bresson, 1951);

About Judicial Systems:
- Into the Abyss (Werner Herzog, 2011);
- Leonera (Pablo Trapero, 2008);
- Juízo (Maria Augusta Ramos, 2007);
- Justiça (Maria Augusta Ramos, 2004);

Latin-American military dictatorship period:
- La noche de 12 años (Álvaro Brechner, 2018);
- Missão 115 (Silvio Da-Rin, 2018);
- El Clan (Pablo Trapero, 2016);
- El Botón de Nácar (Patricio Guzman, 2015);
- Nostalgia de la Luz (Patricio Guzman, 2010);
- Mundialito (Sebastian Bednarik, 2010);
- Cidadão Boilesen (Chaim Litewski, 2009);
- Em teu Nome (Paulo Nascimento, 2009);
- El Circulo (José Pedro Charlo y Aldo Garay, 2008);

Violence against Women and related issues:
- Familia Submergida (María Alché, 2018);
- Assassination Nation (Sam Levinson, 2018);
- Unsane (Steven Soderbergh, 2018);
- Den skyldige (Gustav Möller, 2018);
- The House that Jack Built (Lars von Trier, 2018);
- Egy Nap (Zsófia Szilágyi, 2018);
- Las Herederas (Marcelo Martinessi, 2018);
- Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017);
- American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016);
- La patota (Santiago Mitre, 2015);
- Mommy (Xavier Dolan, 2015);
- Butter on the Latch (Josephine Decker, 2014);
- Miss Violence (Alexandros Avranas, 2013);
- Después de Lucia (Michel Franco, 2013);
- I, Anna (Barnaby Southcombe, 2012);
- We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011);
- Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009);
- Das Fremde in mir (Emily Atef, 2008);
- 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile (Cristian Mungiu, 2007);
- Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams (Jasmila Zbanic, 2006);
- Lilja 4-ever (Lukas Moodysson, 2002);
- La Pianiste (Michael Haneke, 2001);
- Les nuits de la pleine lune (Eric Rohmer, 1984);
- Panelkapcsolat (Béla Tarr, 1982);
- Die Marquise von O (Eric Rohmer, 1976);
- Nathalie Granger (Marguerite Duras, 1972);
- Détruire dit elle (Marguerite Duras, 1969);

See also:
- The House that Jack Built's simple equation;
- Amat Escalante (& Werner Herzog): Basilisk's Cinema;
- Julio Bressane;
- Cinema Novo;
- Godard's Sympathy for the Devil;
- Sonatine Takeshi Kitano, 1993);
- Heitor Dhalia;
- Cinema of Uruguay;
- Inside Job;
- Pier Paolo Pasolini;
- Instead of revolution: démontage;
And also:
- Sobre o fio de José Padilha;
- "ERRATA list" for Narrative Outbreak in Contemporary Conflict Cinema;
- Narrative Self-Deconstruction in Contemporary Cinema;
- Bases histórico-conceituais para a crítica cinematográfica não representacional;

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