Friday, November 23, 2007

El Búfalo de la Noche

This year's pick for the opening gala of the Discovering Latin America film festival. Diego Luna attended and spoke for almost an hour between the end of the movie and the reception which followed at Gaucho in Swallow Street.

I gathered from the under-indulgent applause around me as the credits rolled that there were other members of the audience struggling to assess this first feature from Jorge Hernandez Aldana, a Venezualan-born Pole. It bears strongly the creative imprint of its writer and producer Guillermo Arriaga, whose novel it is an adaptation of and whose regular directorial collaborator was until recently Alejandro González Iñárritu. It has for example, both the languid electric guitar score of Amores Perros and the drying-paint pacing of Babel, with the grainy texture of both. There are also plenty of Arriaga's signature flashbacks, though here they handled in an apparently less tructured and meaningful way.

The film takes us in close into the lives of a group of university-aged individuals living in Mexico City. Luna plays Manuel, a young man at the centre of a nexus of disfunctional families, friendships and flings who, crucially to this story, has deflowered and staked obsessive ownership of Tania, girlfriend to his schizophrenic best buddy Gregorio. At the outset this pinche loco has just been released from an institution and the very next day blows his own brains out.

What this movie does achieve, it achieves by way of suggestion and through an intrusive intimacy with the pains and pleasures of its alienated young characters. (The pleasures, though indeed eroticised, are the sort where people start sniffling midway through them.) We are given only just the most minimal number of reasons to develop an interest in these people, and if you took away the nudity there really wouldn't be all that much left.

Diego Luna delivers some bare bottom work on a par with that in Y tu Mamá También. I was feeling my own rear end quite sharply by the time we reached the one hour mark, but things do quicken up a bit when the barest outline of a thriller plotline is introduced.

Anyway, here's the trailer and I hope to post some clips from Diego Luna's Q&A session over the weekend:

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