Heavenly battles and broken skies - Page 2

It's past time to look beyond the big Hollywood three to emerge from Mexican cinema

Left alone by their divorced parents and armed with Nintendo, an extralarge pizza, and plenty of Coke, Flama and Moko are ready to play — until a power shortage and a sudden visitor derail their plans.

Both Duck Seasons's tight eight-hour narrative span and its confined space — all but three short sequences take place inside an apartment — remind me of Red Dawn (1989), the independently produced film that boldly inaugurated the current new Mexican cinema by taking on the notorious military massacre of student and civilian demonstrators on the eve of the 1968 summer Olympic Games. Duck Season is otherwise void of obvious political references, but Moko's homo fantasy of his buddy Flama is endearing. Moko spells his nickname with a k, not a c, since the latter spelling means booger (bugger?). No matter how you spell it, the word still has the connotation of bodily secretions, sexual and otherwise — as does the pato of the original title.

Some other favorites:

Pink Punch (Puños Rosas, 2004). Beto Gómez's campy Mexploitation flick packs plenty of fruity juice in a US-Mexico-border action-comedy involving gangsters, boxers, and prison. The delights include always fierce, don't-fuck-with-me Isela Vega and a knockout performance by Roberto Espejo, again doing drag, as in Gómez's Caiman's Dream (El Sueño del Caimán, 2005).

A Wonderful World (Un Mundo Maravilloso, 2005). Luis Estrada's excellent follow-up to his polemical Herod's Law (La Ley de Herodes, 1999) arrived just in time to assess how well the National Action Party fared in bridging the abyss between rich and poor after 71 years of uninterrupted, ironfisted Institutional Revolutionary Party political rule.

The Citrillo's Turns (Las Vueltas del Citrillo, 2005). Veteran Felipe Cazals returns to the abuse of power, this time with a tone of picaresque black comedy. Featuring stellar performances by the ever versatile Damián Alcázar, José María Yazpik, and Vanessa Bauche, it's set circa 1903 and focuses on characters who indulge in alcoholic libations from a pulquería, which gives the film its title.

In the Pit (En el Hoyo, 2005). Director Juan Carlos Rulfo finally lets his famous father rest in peace while dynamically exploring his own voice. This documentary brings together on-site conversations with workers who constructed the second level of the highway where three million cars circulate daily through Mexico City.

Despite a significant increase in the annual number of feature-length works produced in Mexico since figures plummeted to unprecedented depths in the 1990s, it remains difficult to see Mexican films outside film festivals. Within Mexico, national film protection legislation mandating 10 percent of screen time be allocated to local work remains, to no one's surprise, unenforced. In the United States, given the interest in Mexican movies since at least as far back as 1992's Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua para Chocolate, Alfonso Arau), it is perplexing why more films don't get a commercial run — especially since French films get theatrical time even though they rarely earn much at the box office. Do I have an ax to grind about this? Hell yeah! *

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