Enamorada (1946)

Screening: Saturday, March 23, 8pm, Rich Theatre

fullsz_film_enamorada

Another beloved Mexican Golden Age film from dynamic duo cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and director Emilio Fernández, Enamorada tells a tale of love and woe set during the Mexican Revolution. In a story inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, it’s hard not to fall in love with Enamorada‘s Pedro Armendáriz and María Félix–especially during their serenade scene, which Gabriel Figueroa inflects with the kind of romantic luminosity for which he became famous. 

For tickets to the Saturday, March 23rd screening of Enamorada, click HERE.

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The Exterminating Angel

Screening: Saturday, March 9, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre, 35mm*

Exterminating3

For the third film in our Extraordinary Visions series, we’re proud to present The Exterminating Angel by director Luis Buñuel and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Nominated for the Palme d’Or in 1962 and a time-tested treasure of both Mexican and international film history, this film is at once anarchic, hilarious, and impossibly dark. To wet your cinematic apetite, look below for pics, clips, and quotes.

“Luis Buñuel’s ferociously brilliant The Exterminating Angel is one of his most provocative and unforgettable works. In it we watch a trivial breach of etiquette transform into the destruction of civilization. Not only does this story undermine our confidence in our social institutions but it challenges our powers of cognition and perception, which are shown to be easily distorted by unreliable narratives. Perhaps most threatening, despite the emotional distance from the characters that Buñuel’s satiric vision grants us, we are ultimately forced to see that we in the audience are also objects of his attack.

“When the thin veneer of civilization breaks down, Buñuel’s bourgeois guests descend into brutal savagery, breaking down walls to get at water pipes, committing suicide and demanding the sacrificial death of the host, and turning to magic, dreams, and narrative for consolation and release. Their mysterious inability to leave the room is experienced as a failure of will–perhaps no more mysterious than the one that prevents citizens from changing the totally corrupt economic, social, and political system on which their own privileges (and the miseries of the servants and other have-nots) are based.”

–Marsha Kinder, Criterion Collection Essay

Exterminating[1]“One of the most truly surrealistic works ever filmed–in some ways even more so than the Buñuel/Dali classic Un Chien AndalouThe Exterminating Angel is as powerful today as when it was shot, and as original.

“…for Buñuel, hell is not just other people but, more importantly, a social structure that destroys and deforms human relations. That’s why it makes an excellent companion to the very different Los olvidados (The Forgotten Ones, 1950), about youth in a Mexico City slum. There, poverty makes human dignity difficult to maintain and violence runs rampant–exacly the sort of behavior that elicits a sneering reaction from the protagonists of Exterminating Angel, who feel that decorum is breached merely when a jacket is removed at a formal evening. What they undergo, however, breaks down (for the audience at least) that smug sense of superiority.”

–Karen Backstein, CineasteExterminating2

*Print Courtesy of Academy Film Archive

For tickets to the Saturday, March 9th screening of The Exterminating Angel, click HERE.

Los olvidados (1950)

Screening: Saturday, March 2nd, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre, 35mm

Los olvidados (1950 Mexico)  aka The Forgotten Ones<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Directed by Luis Bunuel

If you’re anything short of a Luis Buñuel expert, the famous film director might be a point of perennial confusion–could the 1920s surrealist behind Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or (1930) really be the same guy as the cine d’art post-modernist behind Belle de Jour (1967) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeousie (1972)?  And what’s that? Yhis guy’s not even French, but Spanish? And what’s this now? He also made a full 20 feature films in Mexico between 1946 and 1965?

All this and more makes Buñuel one of cinema’s most important figures, as well as one of its more confusing. For the second film in our Extraordinary Visions series, we’re lucky enough to have one of his most beloved films and the one that marked both his return to the international film stage and a turning point in Mexican film history: Los olvidados (The Forgotten Ones or The Young and the Damned) (1950).

An unflinching look at Mexico City’s street hooligans, Los olvidados departed from the romanticism of its contemporaneous neorealist projects to portray a downtrodden world of innumerable cruelties and few, if any, routes of escape or opportunities for redemption. As Dominique Russell describes, Buñuel “turns Mexico’s sacred national myths inside out” and “anticipates the New Latin American cinema’s turn away from the studio sets towards reality in the streets.” For this, Buñuel took a lot of heat from those who received the film as an offensive attack on Mexican society, but he also won best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival and garnered acclaim far and wide in the international film community. He would, however, never again attempt to stare head on at social injustice’s raw conditions and unmitigated brutality; he would instead carry out his brilliant career from a perch of critical (and at times, snarky) remove, satirizing the bourgeoisie and laying bare the absurdities of capitalist society with hardly a glance edgewise to those trampled by the system. His other films are spectacular and daring in their own ways, but Los olvidados risks bringing things like heart and hopelessness to the table where his later work speaks primarily through calcified cynicism or the strange, defeated cackles of a madman.

As unique as Los olvidados is within Buñuel’s exalted career, the film materializes as a masterpiece only once we consider another all too important variable in its production: renowned cinematographer and subject of our film series, Gabriel Figueroa. For as unprecedented as Los olvidados‘s themes were and as shocking as its course of events was, this film unfolds most stunningly in its visual textures. It is Figueroa’s camera that knows when to lead us straight into this dog eat dog world, taking on a gaze and movement as if it were itself a street urchin navigating the crowds or baring witness to a searing act of violence. And it is Figueroa’s camera that knows just how to sit back and take in the rubble and cacti or plunge us, all of a sudden, into the shadowed corners and other-worldly light of a troubled home. A pigeon, piercing white, glides along a woman’s naked back. Clouds blaze overexposed in the sky. Milk splashes across a girl’s limbs. A boy’s crisp shirt is instantly sullied by his misfortune. A shower of feathers floats down, catching a nightmare’s uncanny light before they rest about the wounds of the deceased. As much as Los olvidados is Buñuel’s masterpiece of social realism, it is Figueroa’s surrealist play of light and darkness, purity and decay.

For tickets to the Saturday, March 2nd screening of Los olvidados, click HERE.

A Portrait of Diego

Screening: Saturday, February 23, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre

Rivera

This Saturday, we’re lucky enough to kick off our series of extraordinary Mexican films with Un retrato de Deigo (A Portrait of Diego: The Revolutionary Gaze) (2007), followed by discussion with filmmaker Gabriel Figueroa Flores and screenwriter Margarita Mansilla.

In the late 1940s, Mexican Golden Age cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa began a film with two renowned artists, painter Diego Rivera and photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. They shot several reels of Rivera, robust as ever, standing tall and eyes wide, sketching the sun-soaked marketplaces that surrounded him. He’s at once a kind of gallant performance piece and an immersed student of the world, humbled by every face and flower and contemplating every shape and shade of the bustling scene. It all has a depth of color that weakens the knees, as if–with this rare footage–we are at last able to fall right into one of Rivera’s paintings only to find the curves even more seductive, the pallet somehow richer, and the calla lilies sweeter than we could have imagined.

But the film was never finished. Far from it, in fact, until Figueroa’s son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores, and Diego Rivera’s grandson, Diego López Rivera, decided to finish the film their own way. Un retrato de Diego delves into the work of Rivera, Figueroa, and Álvarez Bravo to explore the vision of each artist and create a remarkable portrait of the moment in Mexican history that inspired all of them. An informative documentary equally accessible and revelatory to both experts and novices of Mexican art history, the film also frequently takes a leap toward the poetic to bring us face to face with the transformative magic of each artist’s gaze.

Reorienting us to Diego Rivera’s paintings and introducing us to the dazzling aesthetics of Gabriel Figueroa, Un retrato de Diego is not to be missed as we kick of Extraordinary Cinematic Visions and delve deeper into the Frida & Diego exhibition.

 

For tickets to the Saturday, February 23rd screening of Un retrato de Diego, click HERE.

Extraordinary Visions

Layout 1This Saturday, February 23rd, we kick off our film series Extraordinary Cinematic Visions: Mexico Past and Present Through the Eyes of Gabriel Figueroa and Carlos Reygadas. We couldn’t be more excited about this. Screening in conjunction with our gallery exhibition Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting, the first half of this film series explores work from Mexican Golden Age cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa while the second half of the series presents work from contemporary Art Cinema director Carlos Reygadas.

Be sure to checkout Creative Loafing’s piece on the series and visit the High Museum website for more detailed descriptions of each film.